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AFF U23 Championship

AFF U23 C'ship: Bounkong making Laos dream against heavyweights Thailand

11:30 AM SGT 24/2/22
Bounphachan Bounkong (Laos)
Thailand looking to make three consecutive final appearances

The AFF U23 Championship has reached the business end with the knockout matches set to commence.

In the first semi-final Laos will take on Thailand on Thursday afternoon at the Morodok Techo National Stadium, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Not many expected Laos to make it to the last four. However, after Indonesia and Myanmar withdrew from the competition, their chances increased manifold.

Yet they had to negotiate a strong opponent in Malaysia in the group stages. In both matches, they played to their strengths and stuck to a gameplan that stifled the Young Tigers.

LAOS U23 RECENT RESULTS

Date

Match

Competition

February 18, 2022

Laos 2-1 Malaysia

AFF U23 Championship

February 21, 2022

Malaysia 0-2 Laos

AFF U23 Championship

Hans Michael Weiss' troops maintained their defensive shape with two defensive banks and a single striker upfront. They were disciplined and hardly gave any space to the Malaysian forwards to manoeuvre.

Phetdavanh Somsanid has been a rock at the back. The sturdy defender has marshalled his backline with elan and his duel with Teerasak Poeiphimai will be one to savour.

Whereas, in attack, all eyes will be on Bounphachan Bounkong. The skipper has been in sensational form and is an instrumental figure in the team. He has two goals and one assist to his name so far in the tournament, including a brilliant free-kick from 25 yards.

Thailand's defence cannot afford to offer him any space as he has the capability to make a mile from an inch. Needless to say that Thailand defender Anusak Jaipeth will have his hands full in trying to contain him.

THAILAND U23 RECENT RESULTS

Date

Match

Competition

February 16, 2022

Thailand 3-1 Singapore

AFF U23 Championship

February 22, 2022

Vietnam 1-0 Thailand

AFF U23 Championship

On the other hand, Thailand also have enough firepower in their ranks in the likes of Kroekphon Arbram, Kakana Khamyok, and Poeiphimai.

Although they lost narrowly to Vietnam in their last outing, their second-half performance would be a major morale booster for them. Arbram was a livewire on the right flank and his combinations with Poeiphimai were working pretty well.

Meanwhile, Khamyok is a dependable figure at the centre of the park. His wide range of passing ability is an asset that helps him dictate proceedings.

Thailand have always played the final of this tournament and even emerged winners in the inaugural edition back in 2005. They are raring to play in three consecutive finals, but before that, they have to negotiate with a high-flying Laos side who are showing no signs of slowing down.