2018 AFF Suzuki Cup Final Return Fixture

Vietnam vs Malaysia: Opening the “gate of heaven”

Friday, 2018-12-14 16:17:02
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NDO – Vietnam will take on Malaysia in the 2018 AFF Cup final return fixture at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on December 15. The “Golden Stars” are now only one match from realising their decade-long dream of winning the regional showpiece. The “gate of heaven” is waiting to be opened by Park Hang-seo and his players.

Vietnam and their key in hands

After the 2-2 draw in the first leg, Vietnam now have the upper hand ahead of the return fixture this weekend. In addition to scoring two away goals, Park’s side will have the advantage of playing at My Dinh Stadium, where they will be powered by the support of tens of thousands of home fans.

The Vietnamese squad have recently demonstrated exceptional form on their home turf. It was at My Dinh Stadium that Park’s troops finished off Malaysia by two straight goals in the group stage. The meeting this Saturday promises to be much tougher, but the psychological advantage is now in favour of the “Golden Stars”.

The advantage of away goals, the home ground and psychology are seen as the key to help Park Hang-seo and his players claim the 2018 AFF Cup trophy.

Shore up defence, maintain top concentration

No team, including Malaysia, were able to break down the Vietnam backline in the group stage of the competition as the “Golden Stars” eased into the semifinal with four clean sheets from as many matches. But in the three matches since, they have conceded four including the two they let in against Malaysia in the first leg, while they looked to be running away with the title two goals to the good. So the most important thing for Park’s side in the final second leg will be to tighten their backline.

Tran Dinh Trong (in red) and other Vietnamese defenders will need to stay optimally concentrated throughout the match at My Dinh Stadium this Saturday.

It will be vital that Park Hang-seo gets his three-man defence focused at the highest level this Saturday night if the boys in red are to emerge victorious – especially as things point to a very tight contest with little or no room for error. Malaysia have many fast players, so a glimpse of distraction from the home side will give the guests opportunities.

Scoring is necessary, but in the upcoming return fixture, it is not the only way to help Vietnam lift the overall trophy. Only by keeping a clean sheet during the match, or even with a 1-1 draw, Park’s side will successfully open the “gate of heaven”.

Improvements needed in finishing

Ruthlessness was another trait that this Vietnam side possessed in the group stages, but seemed to have forgotten during the first leg of the final at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium. Though they stormed to a two-goal lead early in the game, the Vietnamese attackers failed to put the game to bed as they wasted at least a couple of clear-cut chances.

Part of the problem was Park giving veteran forward Nguyen Anh Duc some rest ahead of the second leg. Ha Duc Chinh who replaced him up front missed two gilt-edged opportunities, while Phan Van Duc also missed a chance of his own.

Malaysia will undoubtedly play attacking football at My Dinh Stadium this Saturday aiming to reverse the situation and take the trophy home. If the guests can manage to score at least twice, everything will grow beyond the control of the Vietnamese. Therefore, although scoring is not a prerequisite for the “Golden Stars” to lift the overall championship title, they will still need to make the best use of counterattacks and opportunities to score goals if possible. To do this, it is a must for the Vietnamese side to improve their finishing ability and limit the waste of chances. With Anh Duc expected to return, there are strong hopes that the “Golden Stars” will display a far better killer instinct in attack to triumph over the Malaysian Tigers.

It can be said that Vietnam currently have the sufficient elements in terms of chance (scoring two away goals), venue (home ground) and human beings (a lineup of quality players), and are now ready to make the decade-long dream of lifting the AFF Cup trophy come true.

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