Teerasil double puts Thailand in control of Suzuki Cup semi with Myanmar

Holders Thailand are set for a third straight AFF Suzuki Cup final appearance after easily dispatching Myanmar 2-0 in the first leg of their semi-final tie at the Thuwunna YTC Stadium on Sunday night.  

Teerasil scored one apiece in each half to put Thailand in the driving seat to reach the final, as they head into Thursday’s second leg at Rajamangala Stadium with two away goals.

Making only their second appearance in the final four and first since 2004, Myanmar were determined to create an impression early on and almost grabbed a shock lead after just 10 minutes. 

Thailand dominated most of the first half and created a glut of opportunities

However forward Kaung Sett Naing, who plies his trade for Thai fourth division side Samut Sakhon, could only fire straight at Thailand keeper Kawin Thamsatchanan after being teed up by Mg Mg Lwin.

Thailand, who brought back big guns like Kawin, Sarach Yooyen, Chanathip Songkrasin and Teerasil into the starting 11 after they were rested in the final group game against Phiilppines, dominated most of the first half though and created a glut of opportunities.  

The War Elephants should have gone ahead on 19 minutes when Teerasil went through on goal, but the skipper elected to square across for Kroekit Thawikan, who was not on the same wavelength as the ball rolled out for a goal kick.

They would break the deadlock four minutes later, with Teerasil striding on to Chanathip’s slide-rule pass before thumping into the roof of the net from just inside the area.

Kiatisuk Senamuang’s men almost made it two on 25 minutes, with Kroekit’s attempted chip tipped onto the bar by Myanmar custodian Kyaw Zin Phyo.

Teerasil celebrates yet another goal

Myanmar got some rhythm towards the end of the first half and had the ball in the back of the net on 36 minutes, but Mg Mg Lwin was adjuged to have strayed marginally offside when he tapped home Aung Thu’s low cross.

The White Angels had another excellent opportunity seven minutes into the second half, but Aung Thu fired meekly at Kawin after Nanda Kyaw’s cross was half-cleared into his path. 

Thailand showed how it should be done on 55 minutes, with Teerasil first collecting Theerathon Bunmathan’s inward pass, then gliding past his marker before firing home an unerring finish in the bottom left corner to double his side’s lead.

That was the 28-year-old’s fifth goal in this year’s competition and he is now just three goals behind all-time Suzuki Cup top scorer Noh Alam Shah.

To Myanmar’s credit, they did well to force the issue in the final half hour and created a few good opportunities, but were unable to reduce the deficit.

Aung Thu, Mg Mg Lwin and substitute Than Paing all forced Kawin into good saves, while Mg Mg Lwin’s late free kick somehow eluded everyone in the Thailand box.

The score eventually ended 2-0 in favour of Thailand and it would take something of a miracle for Myanmar to turn around the tie. 

Photos: ASEAN Football Federation