By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
Playing on a soaked field following heavy rains, the two powerhouses of Asean football were engaged in a nail-biting battle that offered several scoring opportunities to both sides. But neither side succeeded in their attempts to score in front of the packed 25,000 stadium.
Despite four internationals -- Chanathip Songkrasin of Consadole Sapporo, Theerathon Bunmathan of Yokohama Marinos, Thitiphan Puangchan of Oita Trinita and Kawin Thamsatchanan of Oh Leuven -- figuring in the line-up, the home side failed to subdue the region’s No 1 team, who had inflicted a heart-breaking 1-0 defeat on them in the King’s Cup football tournament in June.
“The tough conditions made it difficult for us to control the ball. We stuck to the game plan but we just didn’t finish well. The result was not what we had expected. My apology for letting the fans down,” said Chanathip.
The game was the first real test for Thailand’s Japanese coach Akira Nishino, who had spearheaded Japan to the World Cup round of 16 in Russia last year.
"We hope to win every home game but to get a point is really disappointing. Vietnam is a strong team. But what we have to focus now is the game against Indonesia. We have a lot to improve," said Nishino.
The Kingdom will travel to Jakarta where they play Indonesia on September 10 in the next match of the qualification stage. Vietnam will host Malaysia the same day.
A total of 40 teams in eight groups are competing for 12 spots (eight group winners and the four best runners-up) in the third round.