Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Thais throw temper tantrum and walk off pitch in defeat with Singapore

Thai's shameful walk-off sullies ASEAN final

SINGAPORE, Jan 31 (Reuters) - An outburst of Thai petulance
rained chaos on the first leg of a bitterly fought ASEAN
championships final on Wednesday before hosts Singapore finally
clinched a dramatic 2-1 victory.

Thailand's late walk-off protest distorted the host
supporters' famed "Kallang Roar" into a cacophony of furious
jeers as the visiting side for 15 minutes refused to allow a
late disputed penalty to be taken.

The showdown had been headed for a 1-1 draw when the dubious
refereeing decision caused it to boil over with just eight
minutes remaining.

Malaysian official C.Ravichandran's decision to award a
penalty to the hosts after striker Noh Alam Shah had gone down
in the penalty area was a red rag to Thailand who stormed off
the pitch.

After 15 minutes of head-shaking and arm-waving the Thais
finally returned to the pitch to a wall of boos. Mustafic
Fahrudin stepped up and fired high into the roof of the net as
the home fans erupted and a small pocket of yellow-clad Thai
supporters squirmed.

Moments later the referee blew up and the Thais ran straight
to their bench, ignoring the celebrating Singaporeans.

Thailand team manager Tawatchai Sajakul defended the

"We have all calmed down now, but there's something
seriously wrong about the decision of the referee," Tawatchai
told Reuters.

"We have a right to protest and we needed to get the message
across that we have been unfairly treated.

"This is football. We now have to prepare ourselves mentally
and physically for the second leg in Bangkok."

Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic was left mystified by the
unfolding drama.

"I don't understand what the Thai coach was doing, or what
point he was trying to make," he said.

"I don't think that's right. This is sport; it should be
played like sport.

"There were many players in the area. They were pulling our
players all the time.

Their punishment came in the end," he told

The controversial victory was the first time Singapore had
managed to beat

Thailand over 90 minutes at the National Stadium
since 1977 but ultimately proved as noteworthy for scenes of
Thai dissent and petulance as for any milestone result.

The incident is sure to add more spice to Sunday's

Singapore are the holders of the trophy -- formerly the
Tiger Cup -- having won in 2004. They also lifted the title in
1998. Thailand are the only other winners of the tournament,
champions in 1996, 2000 and 2002.

Thailand's late antics stole the show on what had been a
thrilling, hard-fought contest.

Alam Shah had opened the scoring on a balmy night with his
10th goal of the Asian regional tournament.

The hosting Lions had been tigerish in defence throughout
the first period but a lapse in concentration five minutes after
the break undid all their good work when striker Pipat Thonkanya
sprung the defence and rounded Lionel Lewis in the Singapore
goal before coolly slotting home to level.

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