Written by : Abriel Tay
Photo by : Ong Tian Hua
Thailand started their title defence strongly after beating Laos 7-1 in the opening match of ASEAN University Games (AUG) Football competition at the NTU Sports and Recreation Field 1.
Anusak Laosangthai (#13), Rittiporn Whanchuen (#9), and Veerathep Pomphan (#16) each got a brace for Thailand while Laos’ Phithack Kongmathilath (#9) got a goal for his side in the first half.
The Thais took an early lead in the seventh minute when Laos goalkeeper failed to push a cross to safety, allowing Thailand’s Anusak to pounce and make it 1-0.
Anusak doubled his and Thailand’s tally 10 minutes later, side footing home Rittiporn’s pass from the left.
In the 41st minute, Anusak turned provider after the forward collected an erroneous back pass by Laos’ defender Saokham Champathong, and squared it to Veerathep who tapped home to make it 3-0.
Laos pulled a goal back in injury time of the first half when Phithack took the ball outside the box, dribbled past two defenders before beating the keeper with a side foot finish.
Rittiporn went on to extend Thailand’s lead in the second half, scoring two goals in quick succession in the 50th to 53rd minute to make it 5-1. Rittiporn’s first goal came after Poomipat cross from the left was not intercepted allowing the forward to finish. He got his second from close range again, this time from Kroekpon Kaewmuean’s cross.
Thailand’s sixth goal was probably the cream of the crop and it came from Veerathep’s boot in the 68th minute. The midfielder latched onto the Laos keeper’s clearance, shimmied past three defenders and composedly finished.
Poomipat scored the final goal of the match in the 87th minute with a free kick that went past the wall and ended at the keeper’s bottom left.
After the match, Thailand’s assistant manager Atipol Suwandee shared that the Thailand team is looking to win the AUG football competition again. “We told the guys to just keep the pressure out and do their best; they are here for a purpose – the gold medal.”
Thailand top Group A after their 7-1 victory over Laos. The defending champions will face Timor-Leste next in the morning of 11th July at 9.30am while Laos will play Myanmar on the same day in the afternoon at 3.30pm.
The replay of the match between Thailand and Laos can be found here