Thailand and Indonesia will meet in the final of the 2013 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on Saturday after they saw off Singapore and Malaysia respectively in Thursday’s semi-finals.
Thailand, on the hunt for a record 14th gold medal, defeated Singapore 1-0 at the Zayyarthiri Stadium, courtesy of Pravinwat Boonyong’s first-half penalty.
Although Kiatisuk Senamuang’s charges were slight favourites going into the game, Singapore showed excellent initiative in the opening exchanges; Hafiz Abu Sujad wasting a good opportunity as early as the third minute before Afiq Yunos sent a header narrowly over seven minutes later.
But in the 23rd minute, Pravinwat opened the scoring when he grabbed his third of the campaign, making no mistake from 12 yards after Charyl Chappuis had been brought down by Madhu Mohana inside the area.
The Cubs continued to threaten in the second half and had a number of chances to grab an equaliser, but both Afiq and Sahil Suhaimi were unable to find the target, allowing Thailand to hold out to progress to the final.
In the other semi-final, Indonesia exacted revenge on defending champions Malaysia by beating them 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, in what was a rematch of the 2011 final.
It was Merah Putih who took the lead a minute after the half-hour mark when Bayu Gatra netted, but Malaysia pulled level in the 84th minute when Thamil Arasu converted Nazmi Faiz’s corner to force extra-time.
But with neither side able to find the winner in the additional 30 minutes of play, the game then went to the dreaded penalty shootout, the same way the final between the two teams was decided two years ago.
And this time, it was the Indonesians who prevailed as goalkeeper Kurnia Meiga emerged as the hero; saving the opposition’s first two attempts from Thamil and Shahrul Saad to pave the way for Yohanes Pahabol to fire them to a 4-3 victory with their fifth and final kick.
Thursday’s 2013 SEA Games Semi-final Results
Malaysia 1-1 Indonesia (after extra-time, 3-4 on penalties)
Thailand 1-0 Singapore