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AFF Championship

AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup: Late Sarach strike breaks Indonesian hearts as Thailand steal point in Jakarta

12:38 PM EST 12/29/22
Indonesia Vs Thailand

Ten-man Thailand nicked a point in a fiercely fought battle with Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on Thursday evening, with Sarach Yooyen’s deflected effort 11 minutes from time cancelling out Marc Klok’s 50th minute penalty.

With Indonesia head coach Shin Tae-yong having rung out the changes, six in total, from the 7-0 demolition of Brunei, the refreshed Garudas were quick out of the blocks, piling the pressure on Alexander Polking’s side, who themselves made just one change from Monday’s victory over the Philippines.

The Indonesians’ industry nearly reaped its first reward in the 17th minute when Yakob Sayuri’s pinpoint cross was nodded agonisingly wide by an unmarked Dendy Sulistyawan, who really should have scored. A let off, but the early warning signs were there for the War Elephants.

It didn’t take long for Thailand to respond with a headed chance of their own, as Bordin Phala rose highest in the box to latch on to Theerathon’s corner, although like Dendy earlier he couldn’t direct his effort on target.

Indonesia soon threatened again, with Egy Maulana inches away from sliding Witan Sulaeman’s low whipped cross home, but the biggest opportunity of the half was still to come. Seven minutes from half-time, the enterprising Witan raced in to disposses Thai goalkeeper Kittipong Phoothawchuek outside the penalty area, but stunningly rolled the 0.57 xG chance, with the goal at his mercy, wide. A huge let off for the War Elephants, and the disappointment around the ground was palpable.

However, they wouldn’t be denied for long. Indonesia finally got their reward four minutes after the restart, as Asnawi Mangkualam’s ferocious shot cannoned off the arm of Theerathon in the penalty area. The referee pointed to the spot, and Klok didn’t need a second invitation. 1-0 to the Garudas.

Things soon went from bad to worse for Thailand, as a labouring Sanrawat slid in late on Saddil Ramdani, catching the man, and the referee duly produced a red card. The Gelora Bung Karno erupted, and Indonesia appeared to be in cruise control.

However, as it so often does for Indonesia in this competition, disaster struck. In a rare foray forward, Thailand worked the ball to Sarach outside the box, who fired one towards goal more in hope than expectation. The shot took a wicked deflection off Ricky Kambuaya, which changed its trajectory, Still, questions have to be asked of Nadeo Argawinata’s positioning, as what should have been a straightforward catch for the custodian ended up looping over his head and into the net. It was Thailand’s first shot on target- with an xG of just 0.06- and it was 1-1.

Thailand will conclude their Group A campaign at home to Cambodia on January 2nd, while Indonesia will travel to the Philippines. Both teams need just a point to book their places in the last four.