The Yamaha Asean Cup is still elusive for Malaysia as defending champions Thailand came from behind to retain the title after edging Malaysia Yellow 2-1
This is the first time that a team has retained the title. With the defeat Malaysia also became the first host country not to win the title since it was inaugurated in 2008 in Da Nang, Vietnam. Indonesia won in 2010 when the tournament was held in Jakarta. Last year, Thailand took the title in Muang Thong Thani.
Malaysia’s previous best in the tournament was also finishing as runners-up in 2008 when it lost to Vietnam in the final. Last year Malaysia failed to get past the preliminary rounds.
There was more joy for Thailand when striker Chokanan Samai-in was named the Most Valuable Player in the tournament. Striker Muhammad Nurfais Johari earned some consolation for Malaysia Yellow when he walked away with the top scorer’s award with four goals.
Malaysia Yellow have only themselves to blame for the defeat when they relaxed their grip on the match alllowing Thailand to score twice. The winning goal came deep into injury time and was thanks to Chokanan’s speed which punished the Malaysian backline.
After receiving a through pass from Kongdech in his own half, Chokanan sped away to plant home a crisp low finish past the rooted Malaysian Yellow goalkeeper Mohd Suhail Sofian. Earlier in the 55th minute, Kongdech had given Thailand a lifeline with an equaliser from a penalty which he earned when he was felled by Mohd Fadhil Janudin inside the box.
This was a reversal of fortunes for Kongdech as he had been booked in the 20th minute after he had given away a hotly disputed penalty by bringing down Malaysia Yellow's Zahril Azri Zabri. Nurfais made mistake from the spot for his fourth goal in the tournament as he sent Thai keeper Patcharaphon Kaewkham the wrong way and give Malaysia the lead.
While the Malaysians were left in tears for letting the title slip from their grasp, it was sweet revenge for the Thais who lost to Malaysia Yellow by the same score-line in a group match.
Meanwhile, in the playoff for third place, Malaysia Blue edged Vietnam 1-0 for a memorable debut in the championships. The win made up for the disappointment of losing 1-0 to Thailand in the semi-finals.
Malaysia Blue’s winning goal came in the 54th minute when Haikal Yusri Feisal slammed the ball past a sea of legs during a melee inside the Vietnamese six-yard box.