Theerathon out for finals first-leg.
Theerathon Bunmathan got booked, for somewhat of a clumsy challenge, which means the superstar left-back would be suspended for the first leg of the finals against Indonesia. On matchday one, Mano Polking surprised everyone when he deployed Tristan Do, traditionally a right-back, at left-back while Theerathon is yet to join up with the squad. Suriya Singmui was handed a start in the final group stage games, yet Tristan Do still got moved to the left flank after Suriya’s head injury and substitution. Who will Mano choose to fill in for Theerathon’s absence? The conventional, but slightly less experienced Suriya Singmui? or Tristan Do?
Quang hai ready the level up!
Despite the disappointing result (from a Vietnamese perspective), Nguyen Quang Hai showed off his quality when it mattered yet again. The attacking took five shots at goal – three of which were one target. Quang Hai produced two key passes and was always a threat from set-pieces – either by shooting or crossing. Chanathip Songkrasin, Theerathon Bunmathan, and Teerasil Dangda have all been excellent for Thailand thus far. Quang Hai is already a quality member of the “Golden Stars,” imagine how good he would be after a year or two playing in a more challenging league.
Brilliant Bihr on the big day!
The first leg’s victory meant Thailand could afford to set up with a more defensive mentality. The occasion was calling for a big performance to match, which Manuel Bihr stepped up to deliver. Vietnam kicked off the game with great attacking intent, but the big center-back from Bangkok United kept his composure and was able to secure the results Thailand needed. Bihr won eight duels and six aerial challenges. He kept things simple when needed, making nine clearances, and impressively did not concede a single foul.
Game-changin switch from Mano
Park Hang-Seo’s high energy and direct football caused Thailand a little confusion at the back. With his midfield constantly getting bypassed, Mano Polking abandoned his preferred diamond midfield formation at half-time in place for a back-3 defence. Substitute Elias Dolah did an excellent job dealing with long balls over the top. At the same time, Thanawat Suengchitthawon offered a solid work rate and neat passing in place of Thitiphan Puangchan, who’s already on a yellow. Despite coach Park looking to the bench, Vietnam barely created any significant chances from open-play in the second half, and credits need to go to Mano and his team for this tactical switch during break time.
Time to rest tired out Teerasil?
Thailand got this far, largely thanks to Teerasil Dangda’s impressive goal-scoring streak. However, despite his ever-reliable hold-up play, the 33-year-old has looked somewhat worn out in his last two outings versus Vietnam. Shin Tae-Yong’s Indonesia is another aggressive team that won’t give Teerasil space to breathe. It’ll be interesting to see how Mano and the coaching staff manages Teerasil playing time in the two-leg of the finals.