SEA Games: Soukchinda gives Laos 2-1 victory over Brunei in Singapore
Laos put on a battling display to secure a 2-1 win over fellow Group B strugglers Brunei in the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games at the Bishan Stadium in Singapore on Sunday night.
Khochalern Phoutthasay gave David Booth's team a first half lead only to see Azwan Ali level the game in the 69th minute before Natphasouk Soukchinda rifled in the winner with 16 minutes left.
There was no stopping Laos from the start when Sihavong Khonesavanh and Soukaphone Vongchiengkham ran rings round the Bruneian defence. Booth's men almost opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Soukchinda's far post header went narrowly wide from a Soukaphone corner.
And there was no denying the better side five minutes later when Sihavong found Phoutthasay outside the box. The midfielder sent a rasping shot past Dani Ahsanuddin to make it one-nil to Laos.
The Laotians began to take their foot off the gas and it allowed Stephen Ng's side to have more possession in the attacking third.
Brunei's striker Jefri Faiq Bolkiah showed why he is in the Chelsea Academy on 19 minutes when he stole the ball off Vongsa Thinnakone before seeing his shot whiz past the left-post.
He tested Lao goalkeeper Soundala Soukthavy three minutes later. A 15 yard free-kick was destined for the bottom right corner only for the keeper to pull off a good save. Faiq made another barnstorming run in the 32nd minute, but had his hands on his head when he saw his well-placed shot rattle the right post to safety.
Laos almost doubled their lead in the 43rd minute when Soukhaphone's mazy run into the box left Sihavong with the opportunity to fire one in, but the ball shook the bar before bouncing out.
Sihavong was at it again in the 48th minute when his 20 yard free kick was brilliantly pushed out for a corner by Ahsanuddin as Laos continued to look the better side.
Phoutthasay's long range prowess tested Ahsanuddin again when his 55th minute thunderbolt was dipping in until the stopper pulled off a one-handed save to keep his team in the game. It was substitute Khouanta Sivongthong's turn to go have a go with a spectacular 40-yard drive in the 65th minute.
Just when it looked like Laos were comfortably in control, Brunei forward Azwan Ali leveled the game at one apiece on 67 minutes. Azwan was left in acres of space from a Tahir Aminuddin Zakwan cut-back and the young starlet made no mistake by placing the ball beyond the reach of Soundala to stun the Laotians who had dominated most of the game.
A naïve Bruneian defence were left smarting some seven minutes later when they carelessly gave the ball away to allow Laos to retake the lead. It was Soukhaphone to the rescue once again when his pinpoint cross found Soukchinda in the box and the midfielder produced a confident strike to make it 2-1.
Laos displayed good composure for the rest of the game to hold on for a precious victory. They will now turn their attentions to Vietnam on June 4 while Brunei face Timor Leste a day earlier.
Brunei: Dani Ahsanuddin (GK), Aziz Asnawi Syazni, Suhaimi Khairul Shahme, Suhaimi Anak Sulau, Jefri Faiq Bolkiah (C), Damit Nur Ikhmal, Tahir Aminuddin. Zakwan, Saiful Ammar (Shafie Effendy 45'), Zahari Azri, Hamir Hanif, Ali Azwan
Laos: Soundala Soukthavy (GK), Vongsa Thinnakone, Sihavong Khonesavanh (Lembo Saysana 72'), Soukaphone Vongchiengkham, Maitee Maitee, Phonsettha Thenthong, Natphasouk Soukchinda (Xaisongkham Champathong 82'), Khochalern Phoutthasay (Khouanta Sivongthong 60'), Sayyabounsou Vilayout, Inthilath Sengdao, Bounmalay Tiny (C)