Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Selangor: Vietnam have one foot in the final of the 2014 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship after beating Malaysia 2-1 in the first leg of their semi-final on Sunday.
Although it was the Vietnamese who were largely in control of proceedings at the Shah Alam Stadium for much of the game, Malaysia were the ones to find the breakthrough after 14 minutes.
After Mahali Jasuli’s 20-yard drive was adjudged to have been handled by Nguyen Huy Hung, the hosts were awarded a penalty and Safiq Rahim made no mistake in placing his shot into the bottom corner.
However, Vietnam were able to pull level in the 33rd minute when Vo Huy Toan pounced on a loose ball and sent a powerful strike into the back of the unguarded net, after opposition keeper Khairul Fahmi had made a smart save to keep out Nguyen Van Quyet’s initial effort.
And a minute after the hour mark, the visitors went on to complete the turnaround when Van Quyet latched onto Mac Hong Quan’s incisive pass and skipped inside Zubir Azmi, before bending a sublime effort past Fahmi into the far corner for the winner.
With a slender lead and two away goals in their possession, as well as home advantage in Thursday’s second leg at the My Dinh National Stadium, the Vietnamese will now be favourites to advance to the final, where they would meet either Thailand or Philippines.
Speaking after the game, Vietnam coach Toshiya Miura was effusive in his praise of his players for coping admirably with what proved to be a tricky test.
“Playing here was very difficult as this stadium is massive and the Malaysia fans were strongly behind their players,” the Japanese said.
“But I must congratulate my players for not panicking after conceding the goal, although I felt that they would play better in the second half.”
Meanwhile, Malaysia boss Dollah Salleh was refusing to throw in the towel just yet, although it was clear he felt his side had plenty of areas to improve in.
“I don’t know what happened to the players,” he admitted. “They were not disciplined tonight [Sunday], especially our backline.
“But there’s still 90 minutes left to play and the boys will have to give 200 per cent in the second leg in Vietnam.”