MANILA - Defending champions Thailand started its Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup with a barrage of goals as it defeated Indonesia 4-2 in its opening Group A game.
On a rain-soaked pitched in the Philippines Sports Stadium in the town of Bocaue outside Manila, striker and captain Teerasil Dangda bagged a hat-trick to leave the Garudas wondering how to stop the hit-man.
Just four minutes had elapsed when left midfielder Peerapat Notchaiya smashed a loose ball into the net after Indonesia goalkeeper Meiga fumbled.
That lead was doubled in the 18th minute when attacking midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin delivered a low cross from the left for Teerasil to stab home.
But Garudas left midfielder Rizki Pora stormed down his flank in the 54th minute to deliver a cross for striker Boas Salossa to score with a downward header. Three minutes later, right-back Beny Wahyudi slung a cross from the right for striker Lerby Eliandry Baru to loop his header into the net.
Still, Thailand managed to pull rabbits out of the hat. In Sarach Yooyen, the Kingdom has a midfielder with the composure to craft openings under pressure.
The 24-year-old, who captained the Under-23s to SEA Games glory last year, calmly cushioned a Theerathon Bunmathan pass perfectly for Teerasil to power past Meiga in the 77th minute. And in stoppage time, Sarach dribbled down the left before laying on an open goal for the skipper to complete his hat-trick.