|Knockout: Ninh Binh striker Pham Van Quyen (right) scores two goals in his team's 4-2 victory over Indian Churchill Brothers yesterday in the AFC Cup's knock-out round. — VNS Photo Tuan Tu
HA NOI (VNS) — Former national star Pham Van Quyen scored a double to kick Ninh Binh to the quarter-finals of the Asian Football Confederation Cup.
The 4-2 victory of the host over Indian Churchill Brothers yesterday in Ninh Binh Province also changed Quyen's decision of retirement.
Thousands of home fans came to encourage their favourite team, whose nine key players were under investigation of match fixing, as well as many other who travelled from Nghe An Province, Quyen's home town, in his farewell match.
However the visitors first opened the score at the 20th minute when Bineesh Thottunkal Balan who made strong sprints, leaving Ninh Binh's defenders behind before passing a ball to Balwant Singh who netted with a close-range shot.
Just two minutes later the hosts found their equal as midfielder Le Van Thang, a raising star, made a accurate 22m tap-in.
The banana-shapred kick was out of Indian goalie Thapa Lalit's reach and entered the net.
Quyen who mafe his AFC Cup debut yesterday gave a perfect pass to South Korean captain Sim Woon Sun who raised it 2-1 at the 28th minute.
The second half was Ninh Binh's show. Quyen blasted the stadium with a straight shot 20 minutes after the break, taking the third goal for the host.
He later became the player of the match with the second netting near the end of the match.
Earlier, Abdelhamid Shabana narrowed the result for the Indian with a strong penalty.
The 30-year-old Quyen who previously decided to say good-bye with sport after this match as saying that he would continue with Ninh Binh until the end of AFC Cup.
"We set a target of winning today match then we have played as strongly as we can, making a beautiful game for spectators. It is our way to tell them that we can win although we play without best men," Quyen said.
"I thought I would retire if we lose this match but now if the team and coach (Nguyen Van) Sy need me I will continue with them," he said.
Talking about his players performance, Sy said he had just wished to have a equal match.
"They made it better than what I dream. They played with more than 100 per cent of their capacity," he said.
The coach said he would work with the coaching board and team boss to set plan for the next round which time table will be confirmed later.
Ha Noi T&T coach Phan Thanh Hung is confident that is his players will finish their AFC Cup quarter-final match against Myanmar's Nay Pyi Taw in regular time.
He said at a press briefing yesterday that his players were in good form and spirit and would try their best to avoid extra-time lay and penalty shoot-outs.
"We have no problem physically, but we will try to win within the official 90 minutes. We do not want to face a matter of luck during the extra 15-minute periods and the penalties," said Hung.
For different reasons, T&T have not played with their strongest formation since the beginning of the tournament, but they managed to top Group F with five wins and one loss.
In today's game they will welcome back captain and midfielder Gonzalo Damian Marronkle, but strong midfielder Bui Van Hieu is out with an injury.
Hung said he has studied the Nay Pyi Taw team. Their playing style mainly depends on "beefy players" and four quality foreigners. The quartet, whom Hung called "the spine of the squad", prefers counterattacks, he said.
"We have the advantage of playing at home and we will push to win although it will not be easy. I believe if we do our best we can succeed," he said.
"Our target is not only the quarter-final round. We want to go as far as possible and I think that a berth in the semis is feasible."
Meanwhile, coach Myo Hlaing Win of Nay Pyi Taw, was cautious in talking about his team's chances.
He said that his team, ranked second in Group H, would definitely deploy counterattacks against the hosts. He said he had watched the opposing team "a lot", in preparation for the match.
Win said he typically has different plans for different situations that can develop during the game.
The match will kick off at 6.30pm at the Hang Day Stadium and will be aired live on the VTC3 channel. — VNS