KUALA LUMPUR and BANGKOK: Malaysia and Thailand played to a tense draw on Sunday in the first leg of the semi-finals of Southeast Asia’s regional championship, the Suzuki Cup.
Teerasil Dangda scored on a great header late on Sunday to give Thailand a 1-1 draw against defending champions Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.
The Thai striker, jumping near the penalty spot, met the cross and placed it into the top right corner in the 79th minute, equalizing Norshahrul Idlan Talaha’s well-directed header earlier in the second half.
Thailand were favourites heading into the two-legged semi, after winning all their group games, and they will now take the advantage of an away goal into Thursday’s return fixture in the Southeast Asian championship.
Fans in both countries were pleased with their teams’ performance, but had hoped for a win. Each side will now being forced to battle it out in Thailand as the tournament heats up for the spot in the final.
“I think we played okay, but we should have got that last goal in the final minutes,” 43-year-old Jamal Aziz told Bikyamasr.com in Kuala Lumpur as he left the national stadium.
“We were right there and so close, but being the underdogs, I don’t think we can complain and we should have confidence going into the next match,” he added.
In Bangkok, it was more disappointment than their Malaysian counterparts, with most Thai fans believing their squad to have been the favorites for the title and missing a number of opportunities.
“We played all right, but I think we should have come out stronger and shown the rest of the region that we are the best team,” said one fan at a local cafe as the match wrapped up. Bikyamasr.com was unable to get his name.
Overall though, the fans believe Thailand is in prime position to advance to the final, needing only a draw to advance on away goals when the two battle in Thailand.