SINGAPORE - Tournament favourites Thailand booked a spot in the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup after edging Malaysia 3-2 following a lengthy weather delay on Wednesday, while co-hosts Singapore kick-started their campaign with a nervy 4-2 win over Myanmar.
Heavy rain and lightning delayed kick-off on the artificial turf at the Jalan Besar Stadium for two-and-a-half hours before the Thais were able to record their second win of the eight-team tournament thanks to a 90th minute winner by substitute striker Adisak Kraisorn.
Amri Yahyah had put the Malaysians ahead after a swift counter in the 28th minute only for Adisak to draw the Thais level three minutes before the break with his first touch.
A mazy dribble and neat low finish by Safiq Rahim had the Malaysians back in front on the hour mark, but Charyl Chappuis scored another equaliser before Adisak smashed in from an acute angle to win the game.
Their second late winner, after having edged Singapore 2-1, left the Thais on six points at the top of Group B in the Southeast Asian championships with Myanmar to play on Saturday. Singapore host Malaysia in the Causeway derby needing only a point to also make it through to the last four.
At the National Stadium, Singapore raced into a 3-0 halftime lead thanks to two volleys from midfielder Harris Harun after Shaiful Esah's 15th minute whipped free kick had deceived everyone and ended up in the corner of the net to open the scoring.
But the underdogs from Myanmar, cheered on by a small, noisy pocket of fans and coached by former Singapore boss Raddy Avramovic, deservedly pulled one back via Kyaw Zayar after a neat team move, with Kyaw Ko Ko then adding a second from the penalty spot on the hour to add to the nerves.
With their composure lost, Singapore endured some nervy moments at the back before a second Shaiful free kick was deflected into his own net by skipper Khin Maung Lwin in the 76th minute to make the game safe. "We achieved a win against a strong team. We saw two totally different halves...we bounced back and we should be very happy," said Singapore coach Bernd Stange, who lost midfielder Shahdan to a broken leg in the first half and will be without the suspended defender Baihakki Khaizan for the Malaysia match.