FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers

"Spiderman" Van Lam impressed fans with his excellent performance against Thailand

Wednesday, 2019-11-20 01:50:44
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Van Lam makes a fantastic performance in the wooden frame of the Vietnamese team in a draw with Thailand on the night of November 19. (Photo: laodong.vn)
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NDO – Asian media has praised goalkeeper Dang Van Lam after his fantastic performance in the wooden frame of the Vietnamese team in a draw with Thailand on the night of November 19.

>>> Vietnam retain Group G’s top spot after goalless draw against Thailand

Welcoming their arch-rivals at Hanoi’s My Dinh National Stadium on matchday six of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers round two, coach Park Hang-seo’s side played well for most of the match, while Thailand also flourished in the last 20 minutes or so. This was the time when the Vietnamese team's defensive line had to work the hardest to fend off the attacks from the visitors. With the excellence and determination of Van Lam and his teammates, the red-shirt side kept a clean net, thus protecting the 0-0 score that helps them retain the top spot in Group G.

According to statistics, Van Lam had at least seven saves in the match, including the most significant one where he successfully denied a penalty shot by Theerathon Bunmathan in the 28th minute of the first half. It was referee Ahmed Al-Kaf who blew a penalty in a controversial situation, saying that Doan Van Hau had fouled on Thai defender Manuel Tom Bihr in the box. However, it was a decision that made Van Lam a hero. The bravery and assertiveness in the wooden frame of the 1993-born goalkeeper beat veteran Theerathon on the spot. Van Lam fell to the right, kicking the ball away from the Thai defender's powerful shot, thus excellently saving the Vietnamese team. This is like a goal for the home side.

Van Lam’s excellent save on the spot is equivalent to a goal. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)

Impressed with this amazing save, the article on the homepage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) described: “Theerathon Bunmathan took the spot-kick, but Vietnam goalkeeper Dang Van Lam pulled off a spectacular save to send the fans at My Dinh Stadium into a frenzy.”

AFC continued to compliment the Russian-born keeper: “Thailand's Chanathip Songkrasin had several runs into the final third in the second half but Van Lam was on top of his game as he denied the Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo striker.”

Sharing the same view, FOX Sports Asia was also impressed with Van Lam's performance. In a match report posted on the sports network's home page, Adwaidh Rajan wrote: “Thailand had a golden opportunity to take the driver’s seat in the game when they were awarded a penalty in the 27th minute after Vietnam fullback Doan Van Hau brought down Manuel Bihr during a corner kick prompting the referee to point to the spot. However, saving the Park Hang-seo side’s blushes was Muangthong United goalkeeper Dang Van Lam who kept out Yokohama F. Marinos left-back Theerathon Bunmathan’s penalty and gave his defenders a reprieve.”

In another article also on FOX Sports Asia, Sarthak Sharma said that the referee's decision to blow a penalty in this situation was quite unexpected, because Doan Van Hau's contact in the penalty area was practically harmless. However, the decision has been made and could not be changed. Still, there was the excellence of Van Lam. Theerathon Bunmathan stepped up to take the penalty for the War Elephants, but a stunning stop by Dang Van Lam ensured the score remained 0-0 at the crucial period," the author wrote.

The Vietnam’s No. 1 goalkeeper had an extremely excellent day. (Photo: ttvn.vn)

Not only acting as hero in blocking the penalty, Van Lam and his teammates continued to play brilliantly, especially in the last 10 minutes of the match when Thailand had multiple dangerous opportunities. The visitors almost scored in the 83rd minute, but the situation further highlighted the excellence of Van Lam and the Vietnamese defensive line in general. It was in the 83rd minute when the Thai players ran deep into the box of the home team. “First it was Dang Van Lam who once again saved Vietnam, before Doan Van Hau heroically threw in a dive and blocked what seemed to be a sure shot goal. Ekanit Panya of Thailand couldn’t convert from tap in range,” Sarthak Sharma wrote.

It was also the last notable situation of the match. The excellence of Van Lam and his teammates helped the Golden Stars keep a clean sheet with a 0-0 draw and preserve the top of the group. Of course, both teams wanted to win this match, but Thailand were the ones who were the “thirstiest” for the full three points. Therefore, after the game, the Thai media of course was not happy to witness a range of opportunities of the team, especially the first half penalty, being denied by the Vietnamese goalkeeper.

Bangkok Post expressed frustration: “Vietnam needed a draw to stay on top of the group and the host achieved the goal. Thailand missed a chance to lead after Dang Van Lam saved a penalty kick by Theerathon Bunmathan in the first half. The War Elephants dominated the game in Hanoi but could not break the Vietnamese defence."

To make matters worse, this draw caused Thailand to lose their second place to the hands of Malaysia, after the hosts defeated Indonesia 2-0 at home in the other group match on the same day. "Thailand were held to a goalless draw by Vietnam in their Group G of Asia's second qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup that dropped the War Elephants to third in the standings after Malaysia beat Indonesia. Vietnam still top Group G with 11 points after five matches and Malaysia moved up to second after a 2-0 victory over Indonesia at Bukit Jalil. Thailand earned only one point in two matches,” Bangkok Post expressed disappointment.

The most controversial situation in the match, when Bui Tien Dung hits Thailand's net from a header only for the referee to rule out the goal due to Van Hau's debatable foul on the Thai keeper. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)

The Vietnamese team could have taken the lead right after Van Lam's save from the spot kick, if the referee did not refuse Bui Tien Dung's goal. From the corner kick by Quang Hai, defender Bui Tien Dung made a towering header into the net of Thailand. However, referee Al-Kaf ruled out this goal because he thought Doan Van Hau had fouled goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan when they both jumped for the ball. This sensitive situation stirred a lot of controversy after the game. If the goal was recognised, the game would be very different. At the beginning of the second half, striker Tien Linh was also ruled out on another goal as the referee again called offside for Van Hau. In addition, striker Van Toan also unfortunately missed a golden chance right after that as his volley sent the ball inches off the bar with only the Thai goalkeeper in front of him.

Anyway, the stalemate draw with Thailand can also be considered a positive result, as Park Hang-seo said at a post-match press conference. With a point won against Thailand, Vietnam continue to maintain their unbeaten run in the second round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and firmly maintain the top spot in Group G. Coach Park will have more adjustment for the team’s weaknesses, before playing guests to Malaysia in the next matchday at the end of March next year.

The rankings in Group G after matchday six of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers second round for the Asian Zone.

TRUNG HUNG