Vietnam towards breaking “no-win obsession” at My Dinh in AFF Cup knockout stage

Wednesday, 2018-12-05 13:05:01
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Van Duc, the man of the semifinal first leg, is expected to continue shining in the return fixture to fire Vietnam into the final match of the 2018 AFF Cup.
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NDO – Vietnam will play host to the Philippines in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal second leg this December 6. Despite the huge advantage brought about by their fantastic 2-1 away win a few days ago, Park Hang-seo’s side cannot be negligent and will need to overcome the “obsession” right on their home field, Hanoi’s My Dinh National Stadium, in order to book a place in the title match.

* Vietnam edge past the Philippines in AFF Cup semifinal first leg

A “no-win obsession” at My Dinh in AFF Cup knockout stage

Four years ago, Vietnam got the upper hand by beating Malaysia 2-1 away in the semifinal first leg in Bukit Jalil. However, returning to My Dinh for the second leg, Toshiya Miura’s troops lost themselves, conceding four goals in the first half before accepting a 2-4 defeat to miss out on a final berth. Such a result forced Vietnam to stop in the semifinals with an aggregate 4-5 loss, which was considered the worst AFF Cup performance for Vietnamese football.

In addition to the bitter loss against Malaysia, the Vietnamese squad has never won a knockout match at My Dinh stadium since the AFF Cup first applied the two-leg mode of the semifinals in 2004.

In 2008, Vietnam successfully claimed their maiden AFF Cup trophy, but they could only manage a goalless draw with Singapore on home field in the semifinal first leg. Then, Henrique Calisto’s troops continued to tie 1-1 against Thailand in the final return leg to be crowned the regional champions for the first time in history.

Two years later, Vietnam headed into the semifinal second leg at My Dinh stadium with huge pressure after conceding two goals against Malaysia in the first leg. Given the task of winning the home clash with a three-goal deficit to advance, the Vietnamese squad could not create surprise and only managed a 0-2 draw, thus missing out on a title-match place.

In 2016, returning home from a 1-2 defeat at Indonesia in the semifinal first leg, Vietnam played with strong determination and won 2-1 thanks to Vu Minh Tuan’s late winner at 90+3, forcing the match into extra time. Indonesia then equalised the score 2-2 to claim an aggregate 4-3 triumph to progress.

Vietnam at high risks of overcoming obsession

Vietnam have put one foot in the final match of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup after edging past the Philippines 2-1 in their semifinal first leg at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod on December 2. Park’s side will head into the return fixture with a big advantage, and this will be the moment for the “Golden Stars” to demonstrate their competition bravery to address the “no-win obsession” on home turf in the AFF Cup knockout stage.

Vietnam play an excellent match at the Philippines in the 2018 AFF Cup semifinal first leg on Dec. 2. (Photo: vnexpress.net)

Vietnam will only need a draw at My Dinh Stadium tomorrow to advance to the final match, a goal well within the reach of Park Hang-seo and his players, especially after how they have performed since the beginning of the tournament.

During the entire 90 minutes at Panaad Stadium, Vietnam created a lopsided game dominating ball possession and producing a series of opportunities to score. Park’s players made good use of blanks in the backline of the opponents to pour constant threats on the Philippines, with the forwards showing flexibility in offensive situations and confidence in ball handling. Meanwhile, in the defensive line, trio Duy Manh, Que Ngoc Hai and Dinh Trong created a real fortress that proved too resilient for Sven-Goran Eriksson’s team to break through.

Vietnam currently overwhelms the Philippines in terms of the chance to progress into the title match of the 2018 AFF Cup, thanks not only to the first-leg result but also the field condition and intense support from home fans in the second leg. Playing on a familiar field will enable Park’s side to bring their favourite short-ball passes into full play. Meanwhile, Eriksson’s troops will arrive at My Dinh without his strongest lineup after five of his key players have been forced to return to play for their clubs, including Neil Etheridge of Premier League club Cardiff City F.C, John-Patrick Strauss (playing in Germany), Daisuke Sato (playing in Romania), Stephan Palla (playing in Austria), and injured midfielder, Woodland. Even worse, midfielder Manuel Ott did not join his Philippine teammates in a training session on Dec. 4 due to a right-leg injury suffered in the first leg at Panaad. If Ott has to stay out in tomorrow’s match at My Dinh Stadium, this will surely be a considerable loss for the Philippines, as he plays an important role in the playing style of the Azkals.

Given what the Vietnamese players have performed as well as Park’s wise substitutions, there are strong hopes that the “Golden Stars” will continue to make light work of the Philippines at My Dinh Stadium tomorrow evening and send themselves into the final match of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.

VAN TOAN