Theerathon Bunmathan’s Strike Secures Seventh AFF Championship Title for Thailand
Thailand secured a historic seventh AFF Championship title with a 1-0 victory over Vietnam on a tense evening in Bangkok. Theerathon Bunmathan’s long-range strike proved to be the difference in the match. The War Elephants entered the match with a slight advantage, as a 2-2 draw in the first leg had left Vietnam needing to score. The match began with both teams actively trying to score, but a mistake by Vietnam’s Bui Hoang Viet Anh gave Thailand’s Adisak Kraisorn an early opportunity to score, but he was unable to convert.
Moments later, Vietnam’s Nguyen Hoang Duc attempted a shot from the right, but it went over the goal. Nguyen Tien Linh also failed to execute an ambitious overhead kick in front of Thailand’s goal. Despite the misses, Vietnam’s players began the match with determination, aware of the difficult task ahead of them.
As the match progressed, Thailand gradually gained control of the ball and patiently passed it around as they waited for Vietnam to push forward. Their strategy proved successful. In the middle of the first half, Peeradon Chamratsamee and Adisak passed the ball to each other on the edge of Vietnam’s area, before Adisak set up Theerathon to score with a powerful long-range shot. The goal was a fitting end to an outstanding tournament for the Thai captain, who also led the tournament in assists with six.
Despite Thailand’s efforts to control the game and limit Vietnam’s chances, the Golden Stars managed to create an opportunity for themselves. Tien Linh, who was tied for the tournament’s top scorer with Teerasil Dangda of Thailand with six goals, was set up behind the Thai defense in the 28th minute, but he took a poor shot. Vietnam’s coach, Park Hang-seo, made a substitution in the 36th minute, bringing on Nguyen Quang Hai for Nguyen Tuan Anh, in an attempt to change the game’s outcome. However, Thailand ended the first half on top and almost increased their lead in the last minutes of the half, when Poramet Arjvirai failed to turn in a low cross from Sasalak Haiprakhon.
In the second half, Thailand focused on managing the game effectively and they succeeded. Vietnam’s usually energetic offense was unable to make an impact on the match. Vietnam’s Hoang Duc attempted a long-range shot that missed Kampol Pathomakkakul’s goal in the 58th minute. Thailand came close to scoring a second goal in the 75th minute, when Theerathon quickly took a free kick that set up Bordin Phala, but Do Duy Manh blocked Phala’s shot, keeping Vietnam in the game. Peeradon received a second yellow card in the added time of the second half, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the match as Thailand successfully kept Vietnam at bay and secured back-to-back titles.
Thailand has now won the Southeast Asian championship for the seventh time, surpassing their closest rival, Singapore, by three titles. The War Elephants put on a confident and dominant performance, cementing their status as the top team in the region.