Rookie striker Sirod Chatthong catapulted himself into the national folklore by grabbing a brace in Thailand’s 2-0 victory over Indonesia in the second leg final of the Asean Championship that enable the Kingdom to clinch a record-breaking fifth regional crown with a 3-2 aggregate success on Saturday.
Anything less than a win would cost the Kingdom a chance to achieve the milestone success after going down 2-1 in Wednesday’s first leg in west Java that snapped their five-game winning streak on the way to the back-to-back title showdown.
Statistics were clearly not on the Thai side as never did the team manage to overcome the first-leg deficit in the final before. With the backing of partisan crowd, they rose to the occasion by producing a composed display to successfully defend the title they won two years ago.
It marked the milestone success as Thailand took up the mantle as the tournament’s most successful country after previously being tied with Singapore on four titles.
With his team in need of goals, national coach Kiatisak Senamuang opted to start with two up front by pairing captain Teerasil Dangda with strong-built forward Sirod, the pair who managed seven goals between them in the tournament so far.
Indonesia were the only team that were able to breach the Thai defence as the two goals they scored in the first leg followed another two they claimed in the 4-2 loss in the group opener last month. That prompted Kiatisak to play with three at the back as he reshaped the backline.
Kiatisak’s tactical changes were spot on as Sirod, who was handed only his second start in the event, justified his inclusion by netting twice to cap a fine display that saw him prove a real handful to the visitors’ defence with his pace and sheer physical strength.
At the back, the decision to restore fit-again Tanaboon Kesarat also proved just as effective as the versatile defender, the country’s most expensive player after joining Chiangrai United for a reported fee of Bt50 million in November, stood firm in the three-man defence that barely gave the Indonesians any chance.
In the closing stages, Sirod, who was only included in the national fold earlier this year, was also brought down in the area to earn his team the opportunity to kill off the tie. However, his strike partner Teerasil, who was leading the competition’s scoring charts with six goals, spurned his chance to equal the record for the most goals scored in the single tournament when the visiting keeper blocked his poor spot kick down the middle with his leg.
Indonesia then were reduced to 10 men in the stoppage time after Abduh Lestaluhu was shown a straight red card for his unsportmanship act by kicking the ball straight at the home team’s dugout. The defeat ensured Indonesia’s wait for its first title continued despite making the final of the biennial tournament for five times.