Six of the best – twice over (The Straits Times)

Six of the best – twice over (The Straits Times)

Thais and Viets get off to super starts; goal difference might settle Group B

Thailand 6

Laos 0

Vietnam 6

Brunei 0

WITH goal difference possibly deciding the SEA Games footballing fate of Group B, Thailand and Vietnam powered to whopping 6-0 wins over Laos and Brunei respectively as the tournament opened in Singapore with a flurry of goals at Bishan Stadium yesterday.

Already making an instant impact is ruthless Thai striker Chananan Pombubpha, who netted four times against the Laotians.

“Chananan played very well and took his goals very confidently. I’m happy he’s done well,” said Thailand’s assistant coach Choketawee Promrut last night.

“My team played well and despite the other (Vietnam’s) scoreline, we are not planning to look at others. We will just focus on our own game.”

David Booth’s team had set out to contain the crisp-passing Thais and to especially neutralise their star midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin. But defender Narubadin Weerawatnodom headed home a Peerapat Notechaiya corner in the 10th minute to open the floodgates, as the War Elephants seek to extend their record of 14 SEA Games football golds.

Chananan then finished off an incisive attacking move to double their lead in the 20th minute in front of an estimated 800 crowd.

Midfielder Nurul Sriyankem made it 3-0 in the 38th minute, before Chananan found the net a further three times in the 47th, 62nd and 74th minutes.

With Malaysia, the 2009 and 2011 gold medallists also in Group B, the two semi-final places in the six-nation group could be clinched by the teams who plunder the most goals.

Vietnam did that by hitting half a dozen past Brunei with a display of free-flowing football in the afternoon.

The scoring started in the 24th minute when forward Le Thanh Binh thumped home a pin-point cross while further strikes from Tran Phi Son, Mac Hong Quan, Pham Duc Huy, Nguyen Cong Phuong and captain Pham Manh Hung completed the rout in front of an estimated crowd of 700.

“I told the players to find more space and play closer to the box at half-time,” said Vietnam coach Toshiya Miura. “Our players worked hard, we didn’t stop even though we were 3-0 up.”

Group B’s qualification picture could be clearer tonight when Malaysia take on Timor Leste, as the Young Tigers from across the Causeway attempt to give their goal account a healthy balance.