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AFF Suzuki Cup 2012: TNT lifting Thailand to the final

AFF Suzuki Cup Final !!

Final here we come !!
image: Thananuwat Srirasant

It's a wrap! For the first time after 2008 Thailand made it to the final of the ASEAN Championship. With a good, superb and dominant display, Thailand eliminated defending champion Malaysia.

With the final whistle of the of the game a bold and bright 2-0 gleamed of the scoreboard in a full Supachalasai, and Teerasil Dangda and Theeraton Bunmathan were the heroes of the evening. All in all a well earned win, with no doubt. Provided that one was either neutrally, or with the Thais. The Malaysian fans could not really enjoy a gala display of theirs Eleven and "rushed" over the official from South Korea, Lee Min-Hu. In the 44th minute he was sending Fadhli Shas off the pitch after a second yellow.

Thailand coach Winfried Schaefer who had to take his seat in the stands after he was sending to the same during the first encounter was represented by his assistant coach Mano Polking on the sideline. Both decided to sent an identical formation on the field, like a few days ago. Malaysia made only one change. Garry Robbat, who performed great in the first game, was replaced with S. Kunanlan.

It was Rajagobal who demanded his players to deliver if they want to reach the final: "....the players know they have to play their very best and raise the level from the first match." But his side failed miserably. The host were in control of the game right form the beginning. Malaysia on his part was sitting to deep in its own half and hardly showed any intention of attacking. In addition Thailand's opponent were running out of ideas once on attack. In particular and as an example, a scene from the first half. After intercepting the ball in the middle of the park, Malaysia was on a break and seconds later in a two-against-two situation. Baddrol took a shot or a was it a pass (?) near the egde of the box, just to hit Thai defender Chonlatit. A minute before, Teerasil had Thailand's best chance of the game so far, missing the goal just wide.

Now we are coming to the outrage scene of the match, happened shortly before the break. Fadhli Shas which had been booked already right at the outset had to leave the field for an early shower. His sending-off came off a situation which took place off the play. Off the halfway line, Datsakorn sprinted towards Fadhli, who was on the receiving end of a pass from one of his team mates, and eventually hit his opponents shoulder. While the game went on, apparently both exchanged some arguments. The Referee stopped the game and in first place booked Datsakorn. The midfielder wasn't happy with and demanded the referee to book Fadhli as well. What he finally did.

Because the sending-off was hotly discussed and by many interpreted as a wrong decision and poor refereeing, we have asked the pros from @CollinasErben [it's a referee podcast in German, ed.] after their opinion. Alex Feuerherdt, referee's observer and responsible for education and training in Cologne / Bonn evaluated the scene for us.

"First of all: The double booking is compliant to rules in any case. If two players clash - and may it be only verbally - and the referee takes the view that they thereby behave unsportsmanlike, of course he can show a yellow (or Yellow-red if a player has already went in the book). In view of the fact that the scene occurred far away off the games action, one can look at the referees judging as the famous setting an example; however, I think, all in all, that a strict admonition had also been enough to both players, in the end."

Bantao and Azammudin

Bantao and Azammudin
image: Thananuwat Srirasant

Like in the first leg, the tie went into the break without goals and like on the Sunday before, both goals still to come in the second half. The 15-minute break didn't changed a thing since Thailand further dominated while Malaysia operated further: too harmlessly. Directly with the restarting whistle Apipoo came on Phichitpong Choeichiu how was on caution. Rajagobal on his part reacted as well and brought Khyril for Kunanlan in the 53rd minute.

After one hour of play the about 19.000 at Supachalasai got to see the brace that broke Malaysia's neck and kicked them out of the tournament. Teerasil Dangda could make use of a blunder by defender Rohidan as he was not able to control a header of Panupong Wongsa. The "Golden boot winner" of the Thai Premier League 2012 showed all his class, kept cool, converted for the lead and scored his fifth goal of the tournament. With it comes that we will see a direct duel for the AFF Suzuki Cup "Golden Boot" in the final between Teerasil and Shahril Ishak (4) from Singapore. However, Thailand kept going and could double the lead just five minutes later when Theeraton picked up a rebound and scored from close range.

With a quarter of an hour remaining, the visitors showed some last gasp of live, and got some opportunities. The most noticeable one of it felled in to the last ten minutes. Kawin was forced to a save after Norshahrul headed a ball towards the goal. It all didn't helped. On this day, Malaysia just didn't performed well enough and was simply too weak. Statistics proving this, with just three shots on target over a whole of 90 minutes. Simply not enough if one want to reach a final. Hence a still undefeated Thailand and deserving, enters the final.

There it goes against Singapore on 19 and 22 December. Schaefer's boys will have to play away first, before welcoming the Lions in the return match on home soil. This gives the Thais the opportunity to celebrate a possible title win in  front of their own fans. Each of the two finalists are on  three winning titles, and adding another could mark a ASEAN-Championship record. The first leg, which takes place at the" Jalan Besar" on artificial turf was sold out within three hours.

Tickets for the second final encounter in Bangkok are go on sale on 19 December via Thai Ticket Major and its outlets.
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