SEA Games football Day 2: What we learned

Day two of the SEA Games football tournament saw favourites and reigning champions Thailand kick off their campaign against Indonesia in Group B.

The much-fancied Vietnam also made their debut against Timor Leste, while underdogs the Philippines took on Cambodia.

FOX Sports Asia reviews the action from the second day of football:

Thailand made to toil

Heavy favourites Thailand made a slow start against Indonesia, but were handed the lead – literally – when an error from Indonesia’s keeper Kartika Ajie allowed Chaiyawat Buran to tap in.

But the Thais failed to take advantage of that gift and played out the rest of the game as if they had already done enough, rarely threatening the Indonesian goal and at times overplaying. The defending champions seemed to think they just had to turn up to win. Indonesia had other ideas and spurred on by some dazzling wing play by Osvaldo Haay, they eventually equalised on the hour.

Stung by the goal, Thailand responded with a spell of possession, although they still failed to create any clear-cut chances. In fact they were lucky not to concede in the last minute when Evan Dimas’ wicked shot was turned round the near post by Thai keeper Nont Muangam.

While there is no doubt this Thai side has the quality, it was a lacklustre showing from a team expected to sweep all before them. One suspects they will seek to remedy this against Timor Leste on Thursday.

Indonesia, meanwhile, looked ready to pull off the kind of surprise that the senior side managed at last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup. The rest of Group B had better take note

Vietnam mean business

Another team expected to do well, the young Golden Stars lived up to expectations with a comfortable demolition job against one of ASEAN’s minnows in Timor Leste.

Vietnam were always going to win, but the manner of the victory was emphatic and some of the football on display was sublime. From superb, one-touch passing to deadly finishing, Vietnam were impressive all round.

The stand out moments being Ha Duc Chinh’s superb diving header for the second goal and Doan Van Hau’s arrow-like strike into the top corner from fully 25 yards. They were top quality strikes that would have graced any football stage.

Thailand need to be aware that if they fail to perform to their full potential, then this talented Vietnam side is chomping at the bit to steal away their SEA crown.

Philippines start well

In the final Group B match, the Philippines earned three points with an impressive 2-0 win over Cambodia. The junior Azkals were patient as Cambodia enjoyed more possession during the contest, and their patience was eventually rewarded thanks to second-half strikes from Reymart Cubon and Kouichi Belgira’s superb late free-kick.

It was a great start for the Philippines, although it remains a tough ask for them to progress from a group that contains Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.