NAYPYIDAW - Indonesia's under-23 team showed unrelenting fighting spirit during the football final against Thailand in Naypyitaw on Saturday, but they still fell short of winning the much-sought gold.
A goal by Sarawut Masuk in the 21st minute gave Thailand a 1-0 victory, which also sealed Thai domination of the medal tally at the 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The football gold, which was won late on Saturday evening, took Thailand's gold medal collection to 107, in addition to 94 silver and 80 bronze medals.
With the biennial multi-sporting event due to close on Sunday, Thailand's position at the top proved to be insurmountable. Thailand was followed by host Myanmar (84 gold, 61 silver and 85 bronze medals) and Vietnam (73, 85 and 86).
Indonesia, which emerged as the overall champion two years ago, ended in fourth place with 64 gold, 83 silver and 109 bronze medals.
With the loss in Saturday's match, Indonesia's hopes that it would end its long football-gold drought - it last won gold in 1991 - were not fulfilled. It was the second consecutive time Indonesia has lost in the final, following the team's defeat in 2011 at the hands of Malaysia.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had earlier asked the nation to pray for the football team's success.
"Let's pray for the under-23 team to win against Thailand in the SEA Games 2013 this evening," the President posted on Saturday on Twitter via his @SBYudhoyono account.
Trailing by just one goal, Rahmad Darmawan's side piled the pressure on Thailand in the second half, managing to create a number of chances in the match, which was broadcast live across Indonesia.
However, the Thai team proved resolute in defending their advantage and clung on to their one goal lead until the end, leaving Indonesia unable to salvage a little pride by beating their opponents.
The Zeyar Thiri Sports Stadium was not the only battlefield that testified to Indonesia's failure to capitalise on its chances.
Earlier on Saturday, Ayip Rizal and his teammates were edged out from winning gold after being beaten into second place by Thailand 20-25, 17-25, 21-25 in the men's volleyball at the Zeyar Thiri Indoor Stadium.