War Elephants enter semi-finals
Thailand yesterday produced a stunner that not only sent title favourites Vietnam crashing out of the men's football first round but also forced their coach Nguyen Huu Thang to resign.
The War Elephants were in high spirits as they defeated Vietnam, who led the Group B standings until the start of yesterday's game, 3-0 to defy all the odds stacked against them and move into the semi-finals as the group winners.
In the other Group B match played simultaneously, Indonesia defeated 10-man Cambodia to reach the last four of the U22 tournament.
In tomorrow's semi-finals, Thailand will take on Myanmar and Indonesia will meet Group A winners Malaysia.
Thailand scored their first goal from a free-kick in the first-half injury time.
Phitiwat Sookjitthummakul's shot deflected off a Vietnam player and the ball skidded into the net.
The Thais doubled their advantage in the 56th minutes when Vietnam goalkeeper Vu Van Thanh crashed into a teammate and allowed Worachit Kanitsribumpen to steal the ball. Worachit slid the loose ball on to Phicha Au-tra, who rifled it into an open goal.
Thailand skipper Chenrop Samphaodi finally netted his first goal of the tournament in the 68th minute after he was set up by Nopphon Phonkam.
Thailand coach Worrawoot Srimaka said: "The players were very motivated and they succeeded in producing a good result today.
"In fact, Vietnam are a good team and we both should have qualified for the semi-finals but the 3-0 result was beyond everyone's expectations.
"We have been playing under pressure since the start of the tournament because we came here as two-time defending champions. The expectations of the fans are weighing heavily on us."
Vietnam coach Nguyen said: "We have to accept that Thailand are stronger than us.
"I am the coach and I could not help the team qualify for the next stage. I have to assume responsibility for this failure. Therefore, I have decided to resign as coach.
Meanwhile, in the women's event, Thailand beat the Philippines 3-1 yesterday.