SEA Games Review: Laos off the mark after downing Brunei

After identical opening defeats, it was Laos who got the better of Brunei on Sunday evening by a 2-1 scoreline to clinch their first three points in Group B.

Phoutthasay Khochalern’s early strike was cancelled out by Azwan Ali’s excellent equaliser for the Bruneians in the second half, but it was the Laotians who had the last laugh via Soukchinda Natphasouk’s predatory strike 16 minutes before the end.

Brunei 1 Laos 2


Laos asserted their authority right from the get-go and it was no surprise that they went ahead after just 11 minutes.

A defensive lapse resulted in left winger Khonesavanh Sihavong stealing in to tee up Phoutthasay, who controlled the ball with his first touch before unleashing a sizzling low 20-yard drive into the bottom left corner with his second.

Brunei's star forward Faiq Jefri Bolkiah was quiet the last time out against Vietnam, but it was a different story altogether this time as he came close to levelling matters twice.

First he sent a left-footed effort just wide of the right-hand post upon breaking free from his markers, before he saw his fierce right-footed drive come back off the post after going on yet another mazy run into the box.

Khonesavanh should have doubled the Laotians’ lead two minutes before the break when he got to the end of a Soukaphone Vongchiengkham cutback, but his shot from a tight angle raked the underside of the crossbar.

Forward Vilayout Sayyabounsou then spurned two further opportunities after the restart, firing onto the post from around six yards out before heading wide of the mark from Khonesavanh’s inswinging corner.

They were to pay their price for their profligacy on 67 minutes when Brunei levelled matters through an excellent team move.

Right winger Aminuddin Zakwan got on the end of a nice slide-rule pass from Faiq, before cutting it back for an onrushing Azwan, who bent a superb effort into the top left corner to leave Laos keeper Soukthavy Soundala rooted to the spot.

Fortunately they were handed a “get out of jail free” card just seven minutes later when they benefited from yet another Bruneian defensive lapse to retake the lead.

A poor clearance out of defence led to Soukaphone releasing an inch-perfect ball into the box for Soukchinda, who nipped just ahead of his marker to clip home a neat finish beyond the helpless Md Ahsanuddin Hj Md Dani in the Brunei goal.

That proved to be the difference between both sides on the night as Laos collected their first three points of the tournament, while Brunei continue to prop up the table after two losses in two.

Photo: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee/ Action Images via Reuters