Article

SEA Games: Thailand bid for football semis

11 December 2009 08:45

VIENTIANE (AFP) - Thailand's footballers go into Friday's match against Malaysia knowing a draw will secure them a semi-final berth as medal table-toppers Singapore look to continue their domination in the pool.

Thailand, eight-times defending champions in the under-23 football, currently sit atop Group A, level on seven points with Vietnam and just a point clear of Malaysia. In the other game Vietnam take on Cambodia.

Host nation Laos and Singapore qualified for the semi-finals Thursday from Group B.

Failure to progress would be a major shock for Thailand, who have won the football gold at every SEA Games since 1993 and coach Steve Darby said his team would progress if they do not concede a goal.

"The main point is advance to the semi-finals," he said, according to the Bangkok Post.

"I think Malaysia will attack because they need a win to go through. If they go for all-out attack, there will be more space for us to attack," he said, adding that his team would try to hit Malaysia on the break.

Meanwhile, Singapore, currently topping the medals table with 11 golds, are bidding to continue their success in the evening events, which feature the men's 100 metres freestyle and men's and women's 100m breaststroke finals.

Singapore won five out of seven finals in the pool Thursday, setting two new games' records in the process.

Two years ago, then-hosts Thailand, currently joint second with Vietnam on seven golds, finished with 183 golds out of a total of 477 -- well ahead of second-placed Malaysia on 68 and Vietnam on 64.

Athletes from 11 nations are competing in 28 disciplines at the 10-day biennial SEA Games, with track and field starting Sunday.

Participants are Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore. The Games close on December 18.

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