Vietnam and Thailand face off on Thursday in the final round of matches in Group B of the 2017 KL SEA Games looking to outdo each other in search of a spot in the semi-final. Both teams currently occupy the top two spots in the group but with Indonesia expected to win in the other match against bottom place Cambodia.
The two teams also met in the last edition two years ago in Singapore, in the group stage. That one finished 3-1 to Thailand but both teams advanced from the group in the 2015 SEA Games where Thailand finished as eventual champions.
Vietnam dropped their first points in this current tournament when they drew 0-0 with Indonesia on Tuesday. This after they have stormed through their opening three fixtures, winning all three with a healthy +11 goal margin.
Nguyen Cong Phuong came into this tournament as one of the potential stars to shine and so far, he has more than lived up to that billing. With four goals to his name already, Cong Phuong is not only the main creator in Vietnam's engine room, he has also shown that he has the capacity to find the back of the net.
The coach Nguyen Huu Thang can also rely on the speedy option of Nguyen Van Toan and the dribbling abilities of Ho Huan Tai for his options in attack. The experienced coach who also handles the senior team will have his work cut out to ensure that Luong Xuan Truong will win the midfield battle against Thailand.
Thailand came into the tournament as the clear favourites but after four matches played, their stock has more than plummeted despite achieving three wins on the trot. Their opening draw against Indonesia opened up a can of worms while they subsequent struggles to score against Timor Leste and Philippines didn't do much to change the perception.
Only one player has scored more than two goals in the competition for Thailand which show a more collective effort from the team and less dependency on any particular player. The big worry is that the strikers have yet to get going with Chenrop Samphaodi and Sittichok Kanoo in particular being a pale shadow of themselves.
However, while their performance haven't quite demanded the respect they deserve, Worrawoot Srimaka's job is to make his players believe in their abilities. Largely considered as the best crop of youngsters in the region, it looks like Worrawoot have weathered the storm and with three consecutive wins, they are the ones going into the match with momentum on their side.
Despite their positions in the group, neither teams could afford to play for the draw as they would be mindful of Indonesia's result against Cambodia, which will be played at the same time. That said, a draw would suit Vietnam more than Thailand.
With the match to be played in the late afternoon, it will be an all-out battle at Selayang Stadium to stay on course for the ultimate prize - the SEA Games gold medal.