Chanathip, Siroch the AFF Cup stars for history makers Thailand
Thailand became the most successful side in the history of the AFF Suzuki Cup when they clinched their record fifth title by beating Indonesia on Saturday night.
The 2-0 victory in the second leg in Bangkok gave them a 3-2 triumph on aggregate, surpassing four-time winners Singapore in the AFF record books.
In doing so, the War Elephants also cemented their reputation as the best team in the region, and provided the perfect dedication to their late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Thailand showed plenty of character to methodically work their way past an Indonesia side who set out to defend in numbers to protect their lead. They settled quickly into their steady, high-pressing game, and kept coming at their stubborn opponents, who often had to resort to booting the ball as far away from goal.
Trying to impress 65,000 fans at Rajamangala Stadium, the War Elephants were over-elaborate in their passing at times. There were instances when a shot on goal would have been the best option, but the players opted for the extra pass which often led to nothing.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Kiatisuk went for a 3-5-2 formation, making four changes from the side who lost in Indonesia. His tinkering paid off superbly, as Siroch proved hero with a brace. Charyl Chappuis provided the midfield stability, and Tanaboon Kesarat added steel in defence. Zico never wavered from his attacking approach, and was rewarded in the end.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kawin Thamsatchanan, 6.5 -- Did not have much to do, but was alert when called to action. Was quick off his blocks to smother the ball in the dying stages after two Indonesian players were played onside in dangerous position.
DF Adison Promsak, 7 -- Was a defensive shield on the right, and organised his defence perfectly. Had to deal with Stefano Lilipaly and Boaz Solossa, who were Indonesia's biggest threats. He aced the test.
DF Tanaboon Kesarat, 7 -- Did well to settle into the team. Cut a composed figure, and made some vital interceptions. Kept Solossa at bay when he shifted to the left side.
DF Sarach Yooyen, 7 -- Played the highest among Thailand's three-man defence, and started the move that led to Thailand's opener. Learnt his lesson from the tricky Rizky Pora after the first leg, and ensured the winger did not have a peep at goal.
MF Charyl Chappuis, 7 -- Played in a deeper role in midfield, and kept things tidy and ticking over. Had a good understanding with Chanathip, and both players eclipsed the likes of Bayu Pradana and Manahati Lestunen.
MF Teerathon Bunmatan, 7 -- Provided width on the left wing, with his pace and dribbling prowess. Helped out in defence as well, especially to halt the bombing runs of Lilipaly. Unlucky not to score at the end.
MF Tristan Do, 6 -- Could have twice put Thailand in the lead, but wasted both chances. The first one was a sitter, as the midfielder rifled wide from close range. He had another crack at goal, but wasted it for an unnecessary attempted pass that failed.
MF Chanatip Songkrasin, 8 -- The creative brain who strings together Thailand's attacks. Danced around the Indonesia midfield the entire night, and killed off their title hopes with a sumptuous nutmeg pass for Siroch's second goal. Deservedly named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
FW Teerasil Dangda, 7 -- Did not provide the threat he had previously, but certainly did his job well. Used his physique to excellent effect, and helped create space for Siroch. Missed a penalty late on that would have added gloss to the scoreline. Still finished as tournament top scorer, with six goals.
FW Siroch Chatthong, 9 -- His first goal may had been lucky, but he made up for it with an absolute gem of a second. Also won the penalty that Teerasil fluffed. Gave the Indonesian defence a torrid time throughout the game, showing impressive skills to go with his Rugby-type physical presence.
MF Pokkhao Anan, NR -- Came in for Chappuis, and stationed himself well to stop Indonesia from progressing forward in the final stages.
MF Sarawut Masuk, NR -- Brought in late on to provide fresh legs up front, and stretch the Indonesian defence. Had a few important touches at the end.
MF Prakit Deeprom, NR -- Came on just to kill time, and celebrate Thailand's historic victory.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.