31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Jun 08, 2022 / 21:33

AFC U23 Asian Cup: Vietnam book place to quarterfinals in must-win match against Malaysia

Vietnam entered the match with a strong desire to win and advanced to the Quarterfinals as Group C runners-up.

Vietnam ended the last match in Group stage against Malaysia 2-0 on June 8, sending them to the Quarterfinals of the AFC U23 Asian Cup taking place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

 Vietnam's Nham Manh Dung celebrates the opening goal. Photos: VFF 

As such, Vietnam and South Korea advance to the next stage after bagging five and seven points, respectively after Thailand lost to South Korea 0-1 in the match at the same time.

Captain Bui Hoang Viet Anh doubled the lead by a penalty in the 53rd minute after video assistant referee (VAR) was taken for reference following the handball by Hairiey Hakim in a duel with Dung Quang Nho in the penalty area.

According to Duong Van Hien, Head of the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF)’s Arbitration Board, Hairiey Hakim got a red card and was disqualified in the match by preventing Vietnam from scoring. He said referee Dilan Perera made an exact decision in such a situation that it took him about six minutes to check VAR and issued the red card.

The opening goal was made in the 28th minute by Nham Manh Dung who jumped high to make a perfect header after getting a cross from Nguyen Thanh Nhan in a quick counter attack.

 Captain Bui Hoang Viet Anh and Vietnamese players celebrate the second goal. 

Sharing after the match, Captain Bui Hoang Viet Anh said the team targeted to win each match to advance to the Quarterfinals confidently.

Vietnam possessed the ball 76.6% compared to 23.4% by Malaysia and created 21 shots while Malaysia made 6. This is the highest possession rate in the tournament so far.

Former Vietnamese national player Pham Nhu Thuan said it’s hard to understand why Malaysia played with such solid defense which had prevented Vietnam from increasing the scores. 

Ó Riagháin Cornelius from Iceland wrote on AFC Asian Cup’s Fanpage: “Vietnamese football is growing stronger and more stable. I always enjoy when you guys play. Very good!”

Liam Lennert from Belgium commented: “Vietnam is a small country, but the play is similar to the Belgian system. There are developed players and the best managers.”

Vietnam and Malaysia encountered 10 times at the U23 level. Of which, Vietnam won six, drew one, and lost three games.

Coach Brad Maloney of Malaysia U23 said playing with 10 persons and getting a penalty affected his players, leading to the losing end. Malaysia concluded the campaign without a single point. 

 Vietnam's Coach Gong Oh-kyun in the post-match press conference.

In his post-match speech, Coach Gong Oh-kyun said: “I am very impressed with his players. Before the tournament, no one thought that Vietnam could do this.” But he said the team’s achievement was made by the players, VFF, coaching board, and doctors, not him.

Vietnam’s lineups in the match versus Malaysia were largely different from that against South Korea. Gong sent into the match two players who had never joined any match in the tournament before.  

The South Korean tactician said he didn’t care who will be opponents in the Quarterfinals as all of them are strong. Therefore, he will let his players rest and try their best in the next matches. “My players want to reach new heights, so do I,” the 47-year-old coach said. 

Over three games, the team scored five goals by five different players. Gong said there is no secret or special training session. Success comes from the players’ capability, and he just helps guide them.

With the advancement to the Quarterfinals, Vietnam becomes the first team in Southeast Asia to end the Group stage without conceding a single goal. In the previous matches of this tournament, the squad held draws 2-2 and 1-1 against Thailand and South Korea, respectively.

Vietnam will face either Japan, Saudi Arabia, or UAE in the Quarterfinals on June 12.

 Vietnam's Nguyen Hai Long, the best player of the match.