AFF Suzuki Cup 2018

International media praises Vietnam after convincing win over Malaysia

Saturday, 2018-11-17 13:19:07
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Vietnam’s counter-attack tactics proved effective in beating their tough opponents by two goals.
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NDO – With the appropriate approach to the match and the support from tens of thousands of fans at a fully packed My Dinh Stadium, coach Park Hang-seo’s side passed their toughest test at the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2018 group stage. Beating strong opponents Malaysia 2-0 last night, the national squad have received great applause from the international media.

* Cong Phuong scores as Vietnam thrash Malaysia 2-0

On FOX Sports Asia, Gabriel Tan penned a review of "classy" Vietnam's victory over Harimau Malaya. Tan described that the Malaysians came into the game at Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium last night looking to maintain their 100% record and take a huge step towards sealing a place in the semi-finals, after having claimed victories over Cambodia and Laos in their opening two games. The visitors made a bright start to the contest, making the home side struggle in the first few minutes. However, the opening goal in the 11th minute thanks to Cong Phuong caused the game turn in favour of the home side. The counter-attack tactics not only helped Vietnam resolve every situation from the visitors, but also led to the decisive goal by veteran striker Anh Duc in the second half.

FOX Sports also pointed out Malaysia's weaknesses in the defeat to Vietnam, as the visitors were severely lacking a creative spark in the final third. Despite the best efforts of striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and left winger Akhyar Rashid, the lack of a real No. 10 player in the squad forced Harimau Malaya to face an uphill task to net a winning score, especially against the stronger sides in the region.

Coach Park Hang-seo (second from left) deployed a considered approach to bring about a convincing victory over Malaysia.

The writer, who is very knowledgeable about regional football, also praised Vietnam in learning how to win "ugly" in a pragmatic manner. According to Tan, there is absolutely no doubt over Vietnam’s ability to play an entertaining brand of attacking football, but they did show a touch of naivety in the past two tournaments when they were arguably one of the best teams but were eliminated in the semi-finals against savvier opposition. This year, that does not seem to be the case as they are displaying the experience and know-how to grind out results even when they do not hit top form.

FOX Sports writer said that this was partly due to the U23's valuable experience in winning the runners-up at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship at the start of the year, followed by a place in the top four at Asian Games 2018. “This big-tournament experience could just prove crucial as Vietnam look to win only their second Suzuki Cup following their maiden triumph in 2008,” Gabriel Tan said.

Meanwhile, Ooi Kin Fai said on Goal that, in front of a packed and noisy My Dinh Stadium, Vietnam proved more clinical on the night as the hosts scored from the only two shots that they had on target. Despite having the lion’s share of possession, Malaysia struggled to break down a stubborn Vietnam side.

Goal also praised the home team's solid defence, as they sat deep throughout the match and comfortably fended off Malaysia, while employing the more robust tactic. There wasn't a huge difference between the two teams but where the visitors failed tonight, the home team succeeded.

Park Hang-seo's side received strong support from their home fans at My Dinh Stadium.

The Goal writer said that Park was rational in arranging a five-man defence with two defensive midfielders in front of them, which gave the home side plenty of cover and shield. It was quick counter attacks that caught Malaysia off guard on both occasions and Cheng Hoe was quick to admit that his team failed to adjust to the transition in play. Vietnam's clinical finishing was obvious to see. Khairul Fahmi had literally little else to do apart from picking two balls out of his goal as the home side went for a very specific counter attacking strategy that relied on the pace and brilliance of star man, Nguyen Cong Phuong.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian press was disappointed with the performance by their team during the visit to My Dinh. "Despite hogging 66% of possession, Malaysia lost 0-2 to Vietnam” was the title run by the Star Online. The article said that during the match, Harimau Malaya completely controlled the game but could not find the way through the firm defensive line of the home team. Vietnam maintained a patient approach throughout the match, with pacey movement and effective passing, despite having only 34% of possession, and they were capable enough to finish off with two goals from Cong Phuong and Anh Duc.

As an explanation for the loss, the Petaling Jaya-based newspaper said, right back Syahmi Safari and Sumareh’s combination on the right flank and left winger Akhyar’s dribbling troubled the Vietnamese backline but they could not deliver the killer pass to strikers Shahrel and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, and Malaysia’s wastefulness was punished by the counter-attacks from the home team.

Winning convincingly against tough opponents, Vietnam are now eyeing the top position in Group A in their third match against Myanmar on Tuesday.

According to the New Straits Times, Malaysia visited My Dinh Stadium hoping to gain at least one point. But Vietnam, at World No. 102, the highest ranked team in Southeast Asia, were not in the mood to let World No. 169 Malaysia get away unscathed. However, the oldest English-language newspaper in Malaysia still expressed optimism on the journey to progress from the group stage for their team: “Malaysia remain on track for the semi-finals but the team need to beat Myanmar in their final group match next Saturday at Bukit Jalil to ensure qualification.”

In the Republic of Korea (RoK), the country of coach Park, the local media also praised the coach’s team after the convincing win. Sportal Korea ran the headline: "Park Hang-seo magic continues." The sports network said that Vietnam played a solid defence, while taking advantage in their counter-attacks. Malaysia, owning the lion’s share of possession, made several changes in their squad but it did not work. Vietnam maintained their two-goal lead to earn a valuable win at home against strong opponents.

DongA praised Vietnam for playing well in defence to win the perfect match without conceding a goal. After two matches played, Vietnam have scored five and have not conceded a goal. Under the guidance of coach Park since last October, Vietnam football has achieved milestones with the runners-up at the AFC U23 championship and entered the semi-finals at Asian Games for the first time. The team are also among the top candidates for the AFF Cup this year, DongA said.

Meanwhile, MBC Sports+ quoted Park as saying he was satisfied with his team’s victory as the team won three points and did not incur any injuries. The Korean sports network said that the Vietnamese national team aim to win the AFF Cup this year after the first trophy in 2008 and this goal could be fulfilled after the previous success under the lead of the Korean coach. MBC Sports+ also said that each movement by the Golden Dragons and their 59-year-old strategist is drawing attention not only in Vietnam but also in the RoK.

TRUNG HUNG - Photo: NDO/TRAN HAI