|Battle for the ball: Viet Nam's U23 captain Nguyen Cong Phuong (left) runs past Japanese Cerezo Osaka's Reiya Morishita during a friendly match in Ha Noi. The game ends 2-2. — VNS Photo Tuan Tu
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam's U23 tied 2-2 with Japanese Cerezo Osaka FC in a friendly match yesterday in Ha Noi.
It was considered a positive result for the host team after losing all two testing games against JFL Selection, another club from Japan, some days ago.
Cerezo Osaka's Kakeru Funaki opened the score at the 22nd minute with a straight shot that went to the left corner of Vietnamese goalkeeper Nguyen Hoai Anh, who successfully protected his net in two previous attempts by the visitors.
It seemed that his teammate blocked Anh's view so he could not react quick enough to prevent the goal.
The host needed just three minutes to level the result by national team member Pham Manh Hung.
Captain Nguyen Cong Phuong's free kick found Hung in the box and the midfielder headed strongly to beat goalie Seiya Inoue.
Anh continued his good performance in the second half denying several chances of the Japanese before he was replaced by keeper Phan Van Tien.
Earlier, Vietnamese threatened Cerezo Osaka with attempts by Ho Tuan Tai and Nguyen Thanh Hien, but all failed to put their names on the scoreboard.
Masaki Sakamoto made it 2-1 for the visiting side at the 60th minute with a close-range shot when keeper Tien was not ready.
The defenders let at least three Japanese enter the box. The ball went zigzagging in the area before coming to Sakamoto, who did not waste his opportunity.
Keeper Inoue made a terrible mistake when he made fumbled the ball and goal hunter Nguyen Van Toan easily leveled the result.
In a post-match briefing, coach Kazuhiro Murata said through an interpreter his players had their best capacity partly limited by some good players from the Vietnamese side.
"Vietnamese players all tended to play attacking and they attacked pretty well. Under Toshyia Miura, they, especially No 10 (Nguyen Cong Phuong), knew how to exploit our weak points. We tried to prevent them from doing their job," he said.
On the other side, coach Miura said his team had better results (compared to last games) because players got used with the Japanese style.
" (That's why) today they played rapid and better although Cerezo Osaka are stronger than JFL Selection. Osaka played a fast and simple football but they still have their goals," Miura said, adding that he was almost satisfied but two goals in this match was not enough and something needed to change in the coming training.
The match was their last game ahead of the Asian U23 Football Championship in Qatar next month.
The U23 team will leave for HCM City on Saturday to continue their training under the hot weather which is similar to Doha.
During that time, captain Phuong will sign his contract with Mito Hollyhock, who plays in J.League 2 with Cerezo Osaka next season. — VNS