FINAL, 1ST LEG
Indonesia 2 Thailand 1
JAKARTA • Indonesia's dream of winning their first AFF Suzuki championship is just one step away, after they stunned defending champions Thailand 2-1 in the first leg of the final in Bogor yesterday.
The home side netted two goals in five second-half minutes to turn the match around, after the Thais led 1-0 at half-time at the Pakansari Stadium.
Thailand were at full strength after coach Kiatisuk Senamuang restored stalwarts Kroekrit Thawikan, Korawit Namwiset, Chanathip Songkrasin and Teerasil Dangda to the starting line-up following the 4-0 thumping of Myanmar in the semi-final second leg on Dec 8.
Given their superior technical abilities and physical strength, Thailand were the dominant team in the early part of the first half with their precise "tik-tok" possession game.
Indonesia tried to fight back but lacked the cutting edge up front.
They were duly punished in the 33rd minute when the tournament's leading scorer, Teerasil, met a perfect delivery from Theerathon Bunmanthan and glanced a low header past Indonesian goalkeeper Kurnia Meiga into the bottom corner.
Thailand finished the first half as the superior team, but the Indonesians did not give up their hopes of winning the title for the first time and, cheered on by around 30,000 supporters, bounced back in the second half.
Out of nowhere they conjured up the equaliser.When Rizky Pora received the ball 25 metres from goal in the 66th minute, it looked as if he would make little headway as he was confronted by three Thailand defenders.
But his snap shot took a wicked deflection off Tristan Do, and nestled into the far corner, leaving goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan no chance of getting to the ball.
The home side were fired up and, roared on by the Bogor crowd, took the lead five minutes later.
Rizky's inswinging corner kick was met perfectly by defender Hansamu Pranata, who headed the ball in over Kawin and defender Sarach Yooyen.
This proved the winner and the Thais suffered their first loss in the tournament since their 2-3 final second-leg defeat by Malaysia in the 2014 edition.
Alfred Riedl's men have a slim advantage going into the return leg in Bangkok on Saturday, but Thailand, who have won the Suzuki Cup four times, will still be the favourites to turn the tie in their home ground at the Rajamangala Stadium.