The Qantas Next Young Socceroos lost against Thailand in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 Championship yesterday evening.
Thai Goalkeeper Ukrit Wongmeena saved three penalties to edge out Australia in the penalty-shootout 3-2, at the Thong Nhat Stadium.
The score at the end of regulation and extra time was 2-2.
“Last year we won the tournament against Korea with a penalty shoot-out and this year we were not that lucky,” said Australia's Head Coach Jan Versleijen.
“We played 5 matches in 9 days. In this short time the players showed good discipline on and off the field and the unity got stronger every day.
“Overall it was a good tournament. The the team improved every game and players better understand the playing style required of them,” concluded Versleijen.
Both teams took their time to settle into the game considering that their last encounter in a Group A match ended in a 1-1 draw.
“It was a very difficult game against the Australians where at the end, it all boiled down to tactical discipline,” said Chalermvud Sangnapol, the head coach of Thailand.
“But we totally deserved the victory even though we allowed them to come back twice.”
It was Thailand who created the first real chance in the game off Noppanom kotchalayuk’s run down the flank for a cross which was met by Channanan Pombupha whose shot was cleared on the line by Australia’s Jason Davidson.
Australia replied with a header from Joshua McVey several minutes later which went just wide of the target while Thailand ended the first half with a double chance from Ponlachai Hongthong which narrowly missed the left post while Adisak Krisorn’s attempt was blocked by custodian Mark Birighitti.
The substitution for Natthawut Khamrin in the second half brought pace to Thailand’s frontline and in the 69th minute, they finally broke the deadlock when he raced down the right flank before cutting into the Australian box for a shot to the far post for the lead.
But with just a few seconds left on the clock, Dylan McGowan headed home the equaliser for Australia from Joshua Groenewald’s free kick to push the game into extra-time.
Extra time did little to change the pace or rhythm of the game and in the 101st minute of play, Adisak chested down a corner before turning past several defenders with a low shot to beat Birighitti for a second time.
And while everything seemed lost for Australia, they showed their resilience once again deep in injury time when Jared Lum unleashed a dipping shot past Ukrit for Australia’s second equaliser.
In the penalty shootout, Ukrit made up for his earlier mistakes when he denied Davidson, Eli Babalj and McGowan’s attempt while Groenewald and James Virgili converted the remainder for Australia.
Thailand’s Apisit Khamwang, Piyarat Lajungreed and captain Surachet Ngamtip were all successful from the spot while Chakrit Ravanprakon and Pittayapat Mangkata attempts failed.
“It was a really good competition for us even though we did not quite defend the title we won last year,” said Versleijen.
“The players are all new and we will have some time to develop the players for the AFC qualifiers. But Thailand played really well on the day and they deserved to win the crown.”
Hosts Vietnam emerged third in the competition when they whitewashed Malaysia 3-0.