Vietnamese players training in Indonesia. A 1-1 draw against Thailand on Sunday in Jakarta was enough to put them through the semis. Photo of VFF
HÀ NỘI — After some late drama against Thailand, Việt Nam's U19s have three days to recover and prepare for the semi-finals of the AFF Youth Championship in Indonesia.
Việt Nam drew 1-1 with Thailand in the decisive group match at Jakarta's Madya Stadium, enough to ensure both sides made it through to the knockout stages at the expense of hosts Indonesia, despite their 5-1 thumping of Myanmar.
This was based on the head-to-head criteria between the three teams, who all had 11 points after five matches, as per the tournament's tie-break regulations.
It was Việt Nam who had the lion’s share of the possession and also initiative as they pushed up in numbers to restrict the Thais to just a few shots from distance in the first half.
Nguyễn Anh Tú battles for the ball against Thailand's Thawatchai Inprakhon during their Group A match on Sunday. Photo of VFF
As frustrations grew in the second half, a 72nd-minute floater from the left saw Vietnamese keeper Cao Văn Bình misjudge the bounce of the ball, allowing Thai striker Kroekphon Arbram to head the ball into an empty net.
However, the drama didn't even there. Vietnamese skipper Khuất Văn Khang snuck in at the back post to slam the ball into the net.
"This draw helped us reach the semi-finals. It makes me glad but I am not satisfied with the player's performance," coach Đinh Thế Nam said.
"In the first minutes, my players were too tense. They could not control the game with many inaccurate passes. But they then caught up with the pace and gradually managed their play style."
Nam said Vietnamese players' mentality would be much better after they qualified for the semis.
"We have three days ahead. We do not know who would be our next rival, Malaysia or Laos. My assistants and I will watch their matches to evaluate their abilities," Nam said, adding that his players will also join to watch the matches.
Nam and his team were awarded VNĐ500 million (US$214,000) for the semi-finals slot from the Việt Nam Football Federation.
In the other games in Group A on Sunday, Indonesia came back from a goal down to beat Myanmar 5-1.
La Min Thwe gave Myanmar the best of start after just seven minutes before Indonesia launched an assault.
Muhammad Ferrari’s got a brace in the 17th and 31st minutes, either side of a goal by Arkhan Fitri in the 25th. Rabbani Siddiq made it four in the 33rd.
Ronaldo Kwateh added Indonesia's fifth goal in the 73rd minute for the final scoreline.
In an earlier match, the Philippines completed their Group A fixtures with a win, demolishing Brunei 5-0.
The Philippines were on target off Karl Absalon (20th), Andres Aldeguer (42nd and 65th), Uriel Dalapo (71st), and Jaime Rosquillo (83rd).
The semi-finals will be held on Wednesday. Việt Nam will play Group B's runner-up and Thailand will face Group B's best team.
Việt Nam have taken part in the regional tournament many times but only won one in 2007.
Nam and his team expect to top the podium for the second time. VNS