Thailand cruise to 4-0 first-leg final win against Indonesia
There are another 90 minutes to be played in the AFF Suzuki Cup final but Thailand already have one hand on the championship trophy after an emphatic 4-0 win over Indonesia in the first-leg at the National Stadium on Wednesday (Dec 29).
Thailand head coach Alexandre Polking had pulled no punches when he was appointed in September, vowing then to help the War Elephants win the Asean Football Federation Championship for a record-extending sixth time.
And his side were equally ruthless against the Garuda despite making seven changes to the semi-final line-up, leaving the second leg on New Year's Day a mere procession unless Indonesia can pull off a miracle.
In a telling sign of how complete their side is, Thailand drew admiring gasps among the 6,219 fans on several occasions with their quick passing and movement, while keeping the high-scoring Indonesians - who have a tournament leading 18 goals - out of scoring range.
And on Wednesday, it was second-choice right-back Philip Roller - who was one of the seven changes - who provided the opening goal to star foward Chanathip Songkrasin in the second minute.
Indonesia's best chance of the match came just before half-time when a counter-attack led by Witan Sulaeman saw him cross for Alfeandra Dewangga but the latter skied his shot.
Seven minutes after the restart, Chanathip got his second goal - and fourth of the campaign - by finishing off a swift counter-attack with a shot from just inside the box after being teed up by Supachok Sarachart.
Supachok then got on the scoresheet himself in the 67th minute when his shot from outside the box found the back of the net for the Thais' third goal.
Bordin Phala then unloaded more misery on their rivals with a fourth goal in the 83rd minute to seal off their 4-0 win in the first leg.
Polking said: “It was a great performance but I would like to give the credit to the players. It’s much easier to be a coach when your players are this good.
“The way the players executed the game plan was unbelievable. We now have a big advantage. We should not have too big a party about this win but we know its now in our hands to bring the trophy home.”
A tearful Polking also revealed during the post-match conference that he brought on third choice goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan in the 75th minute to “give him a happy moment” as the latter’s father died earlier on Wednesday.
Indonesia head coach Shin Tae-yong was still shell-shocked after the game, saying: “I had no idea that we will be defeated by such a scoreline today.
“I strongly feel that we were lacking experience within the team. Many of the players are playing in the final for the first time and after we conceded early, we gave ourselves a hard time.”
Both teams will play the second leg of the final at the National Stadium on Jan 1.