|Coach Park Hang-seo of Việt Nam said his players performed well against Saudi Arabia. Photo courtesy of AFC
HÀ NỘI — Coach Park Hang-seo praised his players' efforts after Việt Nam lost to Saudi Arabia by three goals to one in their opening World Cup qualifier on Friday in Riyadh.
"We scored first but lost this match. We were unlucky suffering two goals from the penalty spot, and then we played with less men," said the South Korean said at the post-match briefing.
"Clearly the shortage of personnel created more problems for us than our lower level of technique compared to the hosts. The result, of course, could not be changed but if we could play with full players, it could have been closer."
Park and his players did threaten an upset from the off after an early goal by Nguyễn Quang Hải three minutes into the game. The team had to work hard to protect their lead in the first half.
The second half saw Vietnamese defender Đỗ Duy Mạnh receiving a second yellow card in the 54th minute. His sliding challenge resulted in a handball inside the box, prompting the referee to point to the spot and send Mạnh off following confirmation from VAR.
In the second period Saudi Arabia scored two penalties converted by Salem Al Dawsari and Saleh Al Shehri. Yasser Al Shahrani also scored a stunning header at the King Saud University Stadium.
"My players tried their best," the coach added. "Two penalties showed some lack of tactics which will be perfected when we play back home.
|Vietnamese players celebrate after scoring in the third minute. Photo courtesy of AFC
"In the next match we know Australia are stronger than Saudi Arabia. But on home ground, we will try harder."
After the match defender Mạnh, who saved his team from many threatening chances in the first half, sent an apology for his dismissal that played a key role in Việt Nam's loss.
On his Facebook page he wrote: "I am really sorry. My sincere apologies is to the coaching board, teammates and Việt Nam's football supporters. I am really sad as this was the worst thing for me and Việt Nam."
Saudi coach Herve Renard admitted that Việt Nam's defence was hard to beat.
The French man congratulated his players and said his coaching board had studied Việt Nam really well. Everything happened as they planned except for Việt Nam's goal, he said, adding that his team had a good first half and an even better second.
Việt Nam will arrive home this evening and will stay at a hotel following their COVID prevention bubble rule before their next match against Australia on September 7 at the Mỹ Đình Stadium.
Australia currently are top of Group B after beating China 3-0 at Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar on Friday. They will arrive in Việt Nam on September 4. VNS