Thailand players celebrate the win on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Twitter/affsuzukicup)

Indonesia Tops the Anticlimax as Thailand Wins the 2016 AFF Cup

BY :AMAL GANESHA

DECEMBER 18, 2016

Jakarta. Thailand has won the 2016 AFF Cup after beating Indonesia 2-0 in the second leg final at Rajamangala Stadium, in Bangkok, on Saturday night (17/12).

Indonesia who came to defend the 2-1 lead in the first leg was seemed inferior to the Thais as Alfred Riedl's squad only obtained 30 percent ball possession during the first 45 minutes.

Teerasil Dangda firstly created a goal attempt with his shot inside the box going over the crossbar in the ninth minute, while Indonesia could make a threat only after 26 minutes with Zulham Zamrun sending his long range effort off target.

The hosts finally got a result in the 38th minute with striker Sirod Chatthong scoring after a deflected anticipation from Fachrudin Aryanto. Thailand became more confident as they held the ball more after the first goal, while Indonesia still played reactive football most of the times.

The Thais assured their win as sturdy Sirod doubled his goalscoring just two minutes after the break, this time with a classy finish, he curled the ball inside the box aiming to Kurnia Meiga's far post.

Indonesia could've been in tragic loss if Meiga didn't play well. The Arema Cronus goalie made at least four times crucial saves, including denying a penalty kick from Teerasil in the 81st minute.

Two minutes earlier, Meiga saved a one-on-one situation with Thailand's left-back Theerathon Bunmathan.

Indonesia's Abduh Lestaluhu made things worse as he was sent-off by referee in injury time after striking a ball harshly to the hosts' bench, causing a minute brawl on the pitchside.

The Thais were on jubilee at full-time as the final 3-2 aggregate score was enough to see Kiatisuk Senamuang and his men winning the cup.

"We dedicate this for the new king... we dedicate the cup for the fans and for the [late] king," Kiatisuk said in a post-match interview to the AFF Cup official website.

"The win is a new year's gift for all our fans," Kiatisuk who also lift the cup twice as a player more than a decade ago.

Indonesia's players salute the away supporters at Rajamangala Stadium, in Bangkok, after the game. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro A.)

Meanwhile, with Indonesia's fifth appearance in the AFF Cup final since 1996, the dense country with 250 million population - and claiming football as the most popular sport - has yet to lift its first trophy in the Asean's most prestigious tournament.

"Congrats to Thailand, they are the best team in Southeast Asia. They did a good job as we could not penetrate their defense," Riedl replied.

"We are happy we made final, we did not really believe we could make the final," the Austrian said.

While Thailand, at the end of the day, also claimed his player Chanathip Songkrasin as the 2016 AFF Cup most valuable player and talisman Teerasil as the top goalscorer with six goals.

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