Việt Nam have a mountain to climb to reach the AFF Cup final

December 25, 2021 - 09:05

The image of Coach Park Hang-seo hunched over in despair after Việt Nam's 2-0 defeat to Thailand in the first leg of the AFF Cup semi-final is not a familiar one to Vietnamese fans


Midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải of Việt Nam tries to run the ball away from Thailand's Theerathon Bunmathan during the AFF Cup's semi-final first leg. Photo courtesy of VFF

HÀ NỘI — The image of Coach Park Hang-seo hunched over in despair after Việt Nam's 2-0 defeat to Thailand in the first leg of the AFF Cup semi-final is not a familiar one to Vietnamese fans. However, he showed that he hasn't lost belief in his players in the post-match press conference, arguing that his team still have a chance at progression. 

Chanathip Songkrasin scored twice for Thailand, though the game could have ended differently if Nguyễn Quang Hải had converted either of his near-misses instead of smacking the woodwork twice. 

"Both two teams experienced moments of high pressure; we have been arch-rivals for a long time. It is regrettable that we conceded so early and easily," Park said.

"My players, (Vũ Văn) Thanh and (Nguyễn Phong Hồng) Duy did their job pretty well. Of course, they made mistakes but in football, mistakes are normal."

The South Korean said the fact that Việt Nam had one day less to rest than Thailand did not have an impact on the result. He saw his team ran stronger and longer than the Thais, especially in the second half.

Coach Park strengthened the forward line in the second half but it was not enough to score. However, the coaching board will work to make sure that the players are more ruthless in the second leg. 

"A deficit of two goals can be rectified at any time. I will discuss with my players and we will work out an appropriate plan. We are strong enough to balance the situation," said Park. 

All is not lost; Việt Nam took just eight minutes to score two goals in the 2022 World Cup qualifying match against the UAE in June and ten minutes to net a double against China in the same tournament in October.

The 64-year-old trainer did not want to talk about the referees but asked the organisers to use VAR, a technology that is now widely used around the world. He hopes to see VAR supporting referees at the next tournament.

He also had a message for Vietnamese supporters: "Don't turn your back on the national team."

The loss to Thailand ended Việt Nam 35-match undefeated streak in the region. 

"It was a difficult match. My teammates and I will compete with all of our energy in the second leg match. We still have 90 minutes to fight. We will strive until the last second," said midfielder Hải.

Defender Đỗ Duy Mạnh, who suffered a shoulder injury and was out of the second half, encouraged his team, saying: "My mates will play to the peak of their ability, power and spirit in the next match. I can't join them but I will share every challenge."

On the other side, Coach Alexandre Polking of Thailand said his team were lucky to score the first goal but was impressed with the second.

The German-Brazilian was full of his praise for his side but cautioned them not to get carried away.

“We have a small advantage with the two goals, it’s an important first step, but it’s not done yet.

“We know that we have to adjust some things and know we can play better than this, but we knew it was important to get the result.

“In the second half, we changed some things in trying to stay compact but unfortunately we missed the penalty. It could have been perfect, but it’s over now and we need to rest and recover.”

The second leg match will be shown live from 7.30pm Sunday. — VNS

In box

VFF official talks with AFF leader about refereeing problems

HÀ NỘI — Deputy President of Việt Nam Football Federation Trần Quốc Tuấn is working with Khiev Sameth, President of ASEAN Football Federation, on solutions to the refereeing woes of the 2022 AFF Cup.

Their talk focused on the two semi-final first-leg matches, between Singapore and Indonesia on Wednesday and Việt Nam and Thailand on Thursday. 

They both agreed that referees have made some errors during the competitive and tense matches, causing mistakes that affected the results.

Tuấn, who is on the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Competitions Committee, said ASEAN football is developing strongly. Teams have improved their quality and the gaps between them have narrowed, leading to more competitive matches. The quality of refereeing must improve too.

Tuấn asked that better plans must be in place for the second leg of the semis and the final of the tournament.

He suggested using VAR to ensure refereeing decisions are accurate.

President Sameth agreed with and appreciated Tuấn's opinion. He said the VAR issue would be considered for the 2022 Cup. — VNS