|With five consecutive wins, Việt Nam defended their SEA Games title with one match to go. VNS/VNA Photo Quý Trung|
QUẢNG NINH — The Việt Nam beach handball national team succeeded in defending their SEA Games gold medal after beating the Philippines on May 10 on Tuần Châu Island, adding a flourish for the hosts in the region’s biggest sporting tournament.
Despite there being one more match left, what Việt Nam achieved was more than enough to seal the title.
With three wins and one loss, the Philippines needed to win their match to cling to their title hopes.
The “early final” started intensively as expected, seeing the Filipinos throw everything they could at Việt Nam in the first minutes, bamboozling the hosts with their rapid attack and solid defence.
The visitors took an early lead of 12-6 before ending the first half with a score of 18-14.
Despite the shock loss in the first half, Việt Nam didn’t lose spirit and kept their nerves when entering the second half, and the 15-minute interval was enough for Trịnh Huy Cường to motivate his players.
With confidence regained, the men in yellow were able to get back in form to equalise the score after a 21-14 win in the second half.
In the intense shoot-out, goalkeeper Nguyễn Văn Tùng ended up the hero of the Vietnamese side, denying the Philippines as Việt Nam eventually ran out 10-8 winners.
With the fifth consecutive win, Việt Nam continued to dominate the competition. If they beat Thailand in the final match, Trịnh Huy Cường’s men will end their SEA Games journey unbeaten.
Failing to beat Việt Nam in both legs, the Philippines ended the tournament with a silver medal, while Thailand rank third.
The SEA Games 31 men's beach handball event is held in a round-robin format with two legs and will end today, one day before the official opening ceremony.
Initially, there were five teams, Việt Nam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore, but Indonesia withdrew at the last minute, leaving only four teams to compete.
They also pulled out of the women's category, leading to the cancellation of the event. Their decision left only two teams, Việt Nam and Thailand, and regulations state a tournament can only take place with at least three teams.
Though the Vietnamese women could not compete at the SEA Games 31, they recently won the Asian Championship. They will be continental representatives at the World Championship in Greece in June and the World Games in the US in July.
In the tournament's final match, Việt Nam will face Thailand on May 11 at 5pm. VNS