SingaporeIn the first half, Thailand had to wait until the second half to beat Timor Leste 2-0, in the opening match of Group A AFF Cup 2020 on the afternoon of December 5.

Scored: Pathompol 51, Supachok 81

Thailand finished 12 times and kept the ball 80% of the first half but failed to score. Coach Mano Polking had to adjust at halftime when he brought in midfielders Thanawat Suengchitthawon and Pathompol Charoenrattanapirom. Thanawat was on the staff of Leicester, but it was Pathompol who shone with the opening goal in the 51st minute. Thailand still dominated the game and fixed the score 2-0 thanks to Supachok Sarachat’s goal in the 81st minute.

Pathompol (left) celebrates opening the scoring against Timor Leste, in the opening match of Group A AFF Cup 2020, December 5, 2021 at Kallang Stadium, Singapore. Photo: Changsuek

Fans have been waiting for a stronger victory of Polking’s teachers and students, with the difference in level between the two teams. Thailand is still the most traditional team in the AFF Cup with five championships (1996, 2000, 2002, 2014 and 2016). This is only the third time Timor Leste has attended the group stage of the AFF Cup, after 2004 and 2018. In the previous two tournaments, Timor Leste lost all eight matches, scoring six goals and conceding 37 times.

But Timor Leste entered the game quite confidently, as they defended but always tried to develop short balls from the bottom. Thailand still pressed the pitch thanks to its superior strength, but squandered many opportunities. The most notable was the header of central defender Kritsada Kaman, which hit the crossbar in the 14th minute.

It took until the arrival of Pathompol, Thailand to prosper. In the 51st minute, from Narubadin’s right cross, Pathompol caught the ball in the penalty area, adjusted a beat, then shot tight and sank to the far corner. Goalkeeper Timor Leste touched the ball but could not save.

Supachok (left) and teammates have difficulty with Timor Leste's defensive play.  Photo: Changsuek

Supachok (left) and his teammates had trouble with Timor Leste’s defensive play. Photo: Changsuek

Right-back Narubadin created both goals for Thailand this match. Half an hour later, he climbed the border again and crossed in as if ordering Supachok to volley close to the wall to make the score 2-0. After squandering a series of opportunities, Supachok scored.

Only winning the team that is considered the weakest in Group A with a difference of two goals, Thailand may not be satisfied when if the teams are equal on points, the goal difference will determine the rank. But Polking is not too worried when he will receive two pillars from Japan, including defender Theerathon Bunmathan and midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin, for the second match against Myanmar on December 11.

Timor Leste 0-2 Thailand

Quang Dung – Hoang An

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