Thailand once again proved that they are the kings of South-East Asia after winning gold medal in the 2017 KL SEA Games. A 1-0 score was enough to beat Malaysia in the final played at Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday night.
The War Elephants have now won the last three editions of the competition and it was their 11th triumph in 13 consecutive editions. Malaysia were the only ones to break their dominance since 1993, with wins in the 2009 and 2011 editions.
After 1-1 draw in their first match against Indonesia, Thailand step up another gear as they romped towards another gold medal. Six consecutive wins was achieved and Worrawoot Srimaka's team achieved that without conceding another goal in the competition.
While their defence remained impenetrable for much of the competition, their attacking side has not flourished as much. In the final, Thailand needed help from Malaysia's Haziq Nadzli in getting the winning goal. There were opportunities for the away side, mostly through Worachit Kanitsribumhpen but Malaysia's defence stood up to be counted during those situations.
"Happy with the clean sheet, especially more so because we've only conceded one goal in the entire competition. We are lucky because Malaysia could have also scored. An unexpected goal but it is our luck. It's a good experience playing in front of 80,000 fans," said Srimaka in the post-match press conference.
Like Malaysia, Thailand also qualified for the AFC Under-23 Championships in China next year but Srimaka will be placing his trust on the bulk of these players in that tournament. However, the former national team striker, refuses to rule out possible changes as Thailand look to make an even bigger splash in an Asian level tournament.
"All the teams [in the SEA Games] are almost equal, with not much different with each other. We just came prepared to win. But this team is not the best team, we have many quality players who will join and improve the team for the AFC," added Srimaka.
With the likes of Noppon Phonkam in midfield and Worawut Namvech in defence, Srimaka could well be the best of the SEA sides participating in the AFC tournament in January 2018. Till then, they can soak in the glory of yet another magnificent achievement in the SEA Games.