BANGKOK: Thailand won the Suzuki Cup on Saturday (Dec 17) after beating Indonesia 2-0 in the second leg of the finals with a brace from forward Siroch Chatthong.
The home side, nicknamed the War Elephants, came out 3-2 on aggregate to seize the regional crown for a record fifth time – eclipsing Singapore’s four titles.
Cheered on by a raucous crowd at the sold-out, 50,000-capacity Rajamangala Stadium, Thailand put their foot to the pedal from the get-go in search of the vital goal to come back from a surprise 2-1 first-leg deficit.
Indonesia showed clear intent to rough up the hosts with a physical, pressing approach. But Thailand remained unfazed and broke through in the 37th minute when burly Siroch Chatthong bundled in a deflected cross off his thigh and into the net.
If that needed a smidgen of luck, the second was pure class. Midfield dynamo Chanathip Songkrasin fed the ball to Siroch with a cheeky nutmeg assist, and given plenty of time and space inside the box, the big man curled a fine effort into the far post, wrapping up the match to give Thailand a second consecutive Suzuki Cup title.
The celebrations threatened to get out of hand, when a section of hardcore Thai fans, who identified themselves as “ultras”, elected to set off flares after each goal as well as at the end of the match.
Fortunately, stadium security moved quickly to snuff out the threat and prevented the pyrotechnics from being hurled. It is illegal to enter football grounds carrying flares as they are classed explosives which can injure or even kill.
After the match, the “ultras” continued their celebration, lighting more flares under the watchful eyes of security.
Indonesia, who entered the tournament as dark horses, are still chasing their first championship after losing the finals five times.