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Thai FA Cup: Army United through to the final

Thai League Cup and FA Cup Goran Jerkovic

Goran Jerkovic taking a shot
image: Thananuwat Srirasant

Beating Bangkok Glass in the semis of the Thai FA Cup, Buriram United made it to the final for a second consecutive time. Army United had to come from behind to eventually celebrate its first FA Cup final birth.

Both semi-final encounters were scheduled for Wednesday, 24 November. However, only the tie between Buriram and Bangkok Glass FC could take place as scheduled. Because of a heavy downpour and in subsequence unplayable field conditions the second semi-final between Army United and Chiang Rai United had to be shifted for 24 hours.

The German Lindemann who hit form during the last weeks under new coach Paniphon Kerdyam was lined up for Army United right from the beginning, accompanied by skipper Tatree up front. Watcharapong Klahan replaced injured goalkeeper Kosin Hembut who might be also out for the final. In spite of some good saves he looked very shaky and often let the ball bounce and drop. On the part of Chiang Rai United both Indonesians Greg Nwokolo and Victor Igbonefo stood in the starting formation.

However, the match needed its time getting into swing. After 30 minutes Army United had his best scene of the first half when Tatree placed a header scarcely off the post. After that, Chiang Rai had 2-3 very good opportunities, but could not capitalize from these aforesaid rebounds on the part of Watcharapong. Both sides went into the dressing rooms goalless and looking at the first half, one could have the thinking that Chiang Rai was after Lindemann during the first 45 minutes. Over and over again he became a victim of fouls. So also as Uilian Souza, tragic-funnily, jumped on the back off the German, just to stop him in midfield. For this challenge he received a yellow from the Korean referee.

And it was Uilian Souza who provided for the 1-0 lead (46') right after the break. His shot from a good 20 meters, could be blocked first by the Army keeper, however, tragic-funnily bounced into his own net. A scene only ten minutes later changed the game in two regards. During a challenge, Uilian knocked his elbow against Narong Jansawek and had to leave the pitch for an early shower.

Short time later Lindemann had his best chance to score, but Bunjong Thongsuk tipped the ball over the bar. 65 minutes played and Chiang Rai Coach Teco made a formally, serious mistake. He replaced the Thai national Tawatchai Thong-Huad with the Brazilian Antonio Claudio. But with the previous sending-off of a foreign player, the number of the foreign players allowed on the pitch automatically decreases [3+1 rule, ed]. Therefore the "beetles"  fielded one foreigner too much, and the game was lost no matter how the result would be.

A couple of minutes later Army skipper Tatree hit for the equaliser and an attack initiated by Lindemann, could be completed by Danny Invincibile 15 minutes before the end to the much cheered 2-1 final scoreline. Lindemann had to be substituted in injury time after a blow on his ankle. Though he hopes to be fit again for the final on Sunday, 4 November.

After two vain attempt over the last two years, in each case Army failed in the semis, the club finally made it to the big show for the first time in history. With Buriram United, the opponent of last years semi final is waiting.

Newin Chidchob's side itself secured its place in the final by beating Bangkok Glass FC two nothing. Both goals came from Goran Jerkovic who is registered for Cup competitions only and up to now had made no appearance in the Thai Premier League. What a luxury. Bangkok Glass, for most of the time, never looked to be a threat and did not play the game like you would think a semi-final has to be played. A very poor and disappointing display by the "Rabbits". Because after all, winning the FA Cup means getting a spot in either the Champions League or the AFC Cup 2013.

Whether Buriram can achieve a back-to-back FA Cup run, or whether Army can cause an upset, all this we will know after the game is played next Sunday, 4 November.
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