Group A: Vietnam 1-2 Malaysia
Taipei: Mohamad Awalluddin Nawi struck with just 2.5 seconds on the clock as Malaysia sealed a dramatic 2-1 win over Vietnam in Group A of the AFC Futsal Championship Chinese Taipei 2018 on Thursday.
It was an end to end encounter between the two Southeast Asian sides, with Vietnam finding the back of the net late in the first half, before Awalluddin equalised for Malaysia in the 36th minute and then turning hero with the winner.
Vietnam had the better start with several shots on target, but after racking up three fouls in just two minutes, they had to take their aggressive play down a notch which gave Malaysia some room to breathe.
Malaysia had very few opportunities to cross over into opposition territory, and had to make the best of every chance and came close in the sixth minute but goalkeeper Ngo Dinh Thuan pulled off a superb double save from Syed Aizad Daniel and Yazid Kamaruzan to deny Malaysia an early advantage.
In the 14th minute, Vietnam moved on a counter with Phung Trong Luan surging down the middle before a swift through pass found Vu Duc Tung in the box, but his shot was slightly off the mark.
A minute from half-time, Vietnam’s dynamic duo was at it again as Trong Luan’s pass found Duc Tung on the right flank and he made no mistake with his twist and turn strike into the bottom right of the net to take the lead at the Xinzhuang Stadium.
Thirty minutes in, Malaysia seemed to have found their momentum with their quick and accurate passes but Duc Tung’s prodding of the backline kept Chiew Chun Yong’s side alert and cautious of making any risky plays.
Looking for an opening day win, Malaysia opted for the power play with five minutes left on the clock, pushing Vietnam into a defensive position for the first time.
The strategy paid dividends a minute later when Khairul Effendy’s pinpoint pass found Awalluddin in the box for an easy tap in to level the scores.
Just when a draw looked to be the outcome, Awalludin scored his second when Vietnam goalkeeper Dinh Thuan failed to hold on to the ball.
Vietnam will take on Bahrain on Saturday, while Malaysia meet hosts Chinese Taipei in the day’s later match.
Miguel Rodrigo: Vietnam Head Coach
"They were really lucky, but this is futsal, it’s a fantastic sport. I cannot be satisfied with the result but we played a fantastic match and unfortunately in the last few minutes we lost control of the match. We will keep playing at that level. And against Bahrain, I’m not sure we can beat them, but we need to take control of the matches in the final few minutes."
Chiew Chun Yong: Malaysia Head Coach
"I predicted it was going to be an equal match. Whoever made the least mistakes would win, and I was right. I’m proud of them for not giving up till the final second but I’m generally still not happy with the performance. There are things that we could have improved. Moving forward with Chinese Taipei, I honestly don’t know much about their gameplay, but I know they have developed a lot recently and that it won't be an easy match."