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Futsal teams end Games with flourish - The Nation
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 10:34
futsalwireThe NationThailand ended their SEA Game campaign with a flourish yesterday, making a clean sweep of futsal titles with resounding victories to ensure the runners-up spot behind hosts Indonesia in the medals tally. The Thai men's team made light work of Vietnam ...Bangkok PostTuoitrenews

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Thailand ended their SEA Game campaign with a flourish yesterday, making a clean sweep of futsal titles with resounding victories to ensure the runners-up spot behind hosts Indonesia in the medals tally.

The Thai men's team made light work of Vietnam with a ruthless attacking display before running out 8-3 winners to claim the title for a second successive Games.

In the women's final, Thailand again stamped their authority over Vietnam, whom they had already defeated at the round-robin stage, with a convincing 4-2 victory to clinch the title for the second time in six years.

The Thai women raised eyebrows by leaving their leading scorer Orathai Srimanee (11 goals) on the bench as they took to the court against the Vietnamese.

But, joining the action five minutes into the match, the hot-shot wasted no time in firing home a deflected shot within a minute.

The Thai side looked a different proposition with the addition of Orathai, who immediately injected energy and was at the heart of the team's most dangerous attacks.

She quickly followed up her goal by pulling the ball back from the byline for Sasicha Phothiwong, who watched in disbelief as her point blank effort was superbly saved by Vietnam's keeper.

But Thai pressure eventually told, and they doubled their advantage when Nipaporn Sriwarom's shot from outside the area found the net in the 15th minute.

Soon afterwards, the Vietnamese halved the deficit when Thi Thuy Trinh beat her marker to a cross before diverting it past a stranded Thai keeper.

Into the second half, the Thai side quickly restored their two-goal advantage when Sasicha made amends for her early miss by tapping home a Jiraprapa Nimratta cross into the empty net only two minutes after the restart.

But the Vietnamese were in no mood to capitulate, and hauled themselves back to within one goal thanks to Ngoc Hoa Trinh's strike.

With seven minutes left on the clock, Nippaporn eased Thai tension with her second goal of the game to clinch the gold.

There was more Thai joy over at the boxing venue, where the Kingdom's fighters reigning supreme in the ring by winning all but one of the eight finals in which they featured.

Flyweight Chatchai Butdee tasted despair after becoming the only member of the Thai team to fall at the last hurdle, going down 19-16 to Indonesian fighter Julio Bria.

"I owe an apology to the Thai public for letting them down.

I boxed well today.

After two rounds, I found myself behind so I needed to alter my approach, which seemed to suit my opponent.

"Falling behind completely ended my chances.

The scenario I feared most before the fight really happened," said a dejected Chatchai.

Chatchai's loss meant Thailand's men were unable to replicate the exploits of their female compatriots Sopida Satumrum, Peamwilai Laopeam, Tassamalee Thongjan and Sudaporn Seesondee, who all won titles.

Veteran light-flyweight Kaew Pongprayoon, who has already secured his berth for the London Olympics, quickly lifted the Thai camp's mood by cruising to a 19-8 victory over Vietnam's Huynh Ngoc Tan to win his fourth SEA Games title.

"Today, I boxed without any pressure after overcoming a home fighter yesterday.

I don't know what the future holds out but I'll try to do my best in London.

If I win a medal there, I may call it quits and pursue a coaching career," said the 31-year-old Kaew.

In the bantamweight division, Worapoj Petchkoom, the other senior member of the Thai team, had little trouble in seeing off the challenge of Vietnam's Tran Quoc Viet 16-9 to win his fifth SEA Games title of a glittering career, which included a silver medal at the Athens Olympics.

Surat Thani native Worapoj, who also won a gold at last year's Guangzhou Asian Games, quickly turned his focus to having another crack at Olympic glory.

"I'm really proud with my fifth SEA Games title.

But, there's no time to celebrate, with the Olympic qualifiers on the horizon.

I need to be at my best to secure a ticket to London in the qualifying tournament in Kazakhstan in March." Apichet Saensit rounded off a glorious day for the Thais, winning his welterweight bout against Burma's Wai Lin Aung in emphatic style.

The referee was forced to call a halt to the fight in the opening round after the Thai floored his opponent with body blows twice in quick succession.

"It was my first fight with him, and he still shows signs of inexperience.

I was happy to grab the gold without breaking a sweat.

It's my second Games title.

From here on, I'll concentrate on training for the Olympic qualifiers," said Apichet.

At yesterday's closing ceremony, hosts Indonesia brought the curtain down with a simple but graceful display of the country's rich cultural heritage and way of life before handing over the Games flag to Burma, who will host the biennial tournament for their second time, in 2013.