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Thailand, Vietnam to meet in AFF U-23 Championship final

Despite fielding an under-19 side at the tournament, Thailand are through to the final of the 2022 AFF U-23 Championship after a 2-0 semifinal win over Laos on Thursday. SPORTFIVE

Thailand and Vietnam will face off in Saturday's AFF U-23 Championship decider in Phnom Penh, Cambodia after both advanced from the semifinals on Thursday.

The Thais were the first to be in action at Morodok Techo National Stadium -- coming up against surprise semifinalists Laos -- and took the lead through Teerasak Poeiphimai's opener after 14 minutes.

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Any hopes the Laotians had of a fightback were effectively ended seven minutes into the second half, when Kroekphon Arbram converted from the penalty spot to seal his side's progress to the final -- a remarkable achievement in itself considering Thailand have opted to field an under-19 team in the competition.

Meanwhile, Vietnam were given a far tougher test by underdogs Timor-Leste -- the lowest-ranked side in all of Southeast Asia -- but ultimately prevailed on penalties.

After the contest ended 0-0 with 120 minutes of action failing to separate the two teams, the tie went down to the dreaded shootout and it was Jhon Oliveira who emerged as the fall guy -- as his attempt with the Timorese's fourth spot-kick was expertly saved by Dang Tuan Hung, paving the way for Nguyen Thanh Nhan to convert and seal a 5-3 triumph for Vietnam.

Both finalists have already met once at the tournament during the group stage, with the Vietnamese emerging triumphant on that occasion as a 1-0 win on Thursday saw them pip the Thais to top spot in Group C.

Meanwhile, all is not lost for Laos and Timor-Leste as they still have a bronze medal to vie for in Saturday's third-place playoff.