|Vietnamese striker Nguyen Cong Phuong (left) during a AFC Under-19 Championship qualifier between Viet Nam and Chinese Taipei. Phuong scored twice in Viet Nam 5-1 over Australia yesterday in Malaysia to enter the finals next year. — Photo newszing.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam yesterday won their place at next year's Asian Football Confederation Under-19 Championship in Myanmar.
The young Vietnamese team did their country proud in an emphatic 5-1 win against hotly-tipped Australia in their last qualification match at the Cheras Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The result was unexpected, with even Viet Nam's French coach Grachen Guillaume stating beforehand that Australia were the top candidates for the winning ticket in Group F, which also contained Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei.
Ahead of the game, the Vietnamese players were asked to try their best and secure a result that would make them one of the group round's best second-placed teams, offering them an alternative path to the finals. In the end they did much better than that.
It took them only nine minutes to open the scoring, with striker Nguyen Cong Phuong receiving the ball from captain Nguyen Tuan Anh, breaking through the Australian defence and firing a low shot straight into the net.
Thanh Tung grabbed the second after poaching the ball from a hapless defender and striking a sumptuous shot past the keeper to make it 2-0.
With their confidence sky-high, Viet Nam launched wave after wave of attack, running rings around the young socceroos. Such was the skill and maturity on display, it was hard to believe that the majority of the Vietnamese players were no older than 17.
The shell-shocked Australian players resorted to long-ball tactics, but they were unable to make their height advantage count and barely troubled Viet Nam's Le Van Truong.
They were soon punished again for their lack of a cutting edge when Nguyen Van Toan locked onto a superb cross from Phuong unleashed a beautiful video-game volley into the corner of the net in the 44th minute.
Australian did manage to narrow the score on the stroke of half-time as Peter Skapetis found space in the box to pounce for a close-range finish.
If this was a glimmer of hope, it was soon extinguished.
Just 10 minutes after the break Phuong pocketed his seventh goal in what has been an extraordinarily prolific round of games for the rising star.
Le Van Son calmly converted a penalty in the 70th minute to bring the score to an almost unbelievable 5-1.
With nine points from three matches, Viet Nam secured their spot at the top the group, three ahead of their humbled opponents.
The Asian championship will be organised on October 5-22, 2014. The best four teams will then represent the continent at the 2015 World U20 Championship. — VNS