31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Dec 24, 2021 / 13:24

Vietnam lose 0-2 to Thailand in controversial match

The defeat ended Park Hang-seo’s 35-match unbeaten record against Southeast Asian national teams for the past three years.

Vietnam ended up the semifinal first leg of AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 with a 0-2 loss to Thailand in the Thursday match, leaving lots of mixed remarks on the way the referee controlled the game.

One of the two goals was undeniably made by the excellence of Consadole Sapporo playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin but the refuree's unprecise decisions left Vietnam, the defending champions, aggrieved for moments. 

Referee Saoud Ali Al-Adba at the Vietnam-Thailand match on Dec 23. Photos: VFF 

Saoud Ali Al-Adba, 35, the Qatari referee, is believed to make a series of contentious decisions going against the Golden Dragons at Singapore’s National Stadium on December 23.

Vietnam had a penalty shout of their own waved away in stoppage time as the ball struck the hand of substitute Weerathep Pomphan, with coach Park Hang-seo refusing to get drawn into those controversial moments, reported AFF Suzuki Cup.

Vietnam were not awarded an injury-time penalty for a handball shout, Gabriel Tan from ESPN commented.

The Vietnamese were denied a spot-kick of their own when the referee waved away cries of handball in added time.

Meanwhile, War Elephants custodian Chatchai Budprom should have received more severe punishment than just a yellow for a last-man foul outside his area in the first half, he added. The Thai goalkeeper came out of the penalty area and dragged down forward Nguyen Van Toan from attempting to finish in a moment that possibly ended up with a score. 

Referee Duong Van Hien, Head of Vietnam’s referees, said “the Thai goalkeeper’s action is to prevent a situation that is clearly capable of scoring even if it takes place outside the box. In my opinion, goalkeeper Chatchai deserves a red card.”

In addition, the unpunished handball in the penalty area of Weerathep Pomphan at the end of the second half deprived Vietnam of a scoring opportunity.

Fandi Takashi from Bandung, Indonesia commented on the AFF Suzuki Cup’s fan page that “Honestly, I’m sorry to see Vietnam vs Thailand match, because of the unfairness of the referee.”

“AFF has to change their referees, the performance was unfair and very detrimental during the match,” Fatkhur Rohman from Malang, Java, Indonesia.

Famous Vietnamese commentator Vu Quang Huy said the referee ignored Thai fouls several times and refused penalty kicks for Vietnam. Letting this happen will leave a stain on Southeast Asia football, Huy said, stressing the need for a video assistant referee (VAR).

Vietnam’s head coach Park Hang-seo said at the post-match press conference that he had “no comment” about the officiating, but he wished the referee to review the game if possible. He said that the AFF Suzuki Cup organizers must apply VAR for the next tournament as it will be fair for every team.

Vietnam have problems with the referees many times, he said, adding that “every time after the game when I’m asked about the referee, I do not know how to answer. It’s very difficult.”

Sharing at the press conference on December 24, Shin Tae Yong, head coach of Indonesia, said Vietnam should get a penalty kick after Nguyen Quang Hai was hit in the penalty area. He agreed with Park Hang-seo to apply VAR in the matches.

Shortly after the match, the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) said it requested the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) to take drastic measures to improve referee quality for better tournaments. VFF’s Deputy Chairman Tran Quoc Tuan who is now head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Competitions Committee worked with AFF President Khiev Sameth and AFF General Secretary Winston Lee to discuss referee issues in this tournament. President Khiev Sameth agreed with Tuan and AFF leaders promised to apply VAR in AFF Suzuki Cup 2022, VFF said in a statement Friday [December 24].

At the interval, Vietnam made changes, introducing more attacking firepower as they went in search of goals and Nguyen Quang Hai was the one doing well but all his attempts ended without luck.

Vietnamese midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai, who is considered one of the top footballers of his generation in Vietnam over the past decade, said his team will play well in the second leg. “We still have 90 minutes ahead,” Hai told the media after the match.

Thailand is attempting to win the champion title for a record-extending sixth time while Vietnam has previously been crowned Southeast Asian champions twice.

The winners will face either Singapore or Indonesia in the final. Their next game will take place on December 26.

The tournament is being played on a centralized basis in a hub in Singapore as anti-Covid measures put in place around the region saw organizers cancel plans to play matches on a home-and-away basis.

The current competition was originally scheduled for last December but postponed due to the pandemic.

 Vietnam's Nguyen Quang Hai (19) and Thailand's Theerathon Bunmathan (3) in the match.