|Great teamwork and fluid attacking play led to Việt Nam's great start in the qualifiers. — Photo VFF
SURABAYA — Việt Nam U20s' match against Timor-Leste will take place today, with Khuất Văn Khang and his teammates eyeing another high-scoring game to ensure a top-two finish before facing Indonesia on Sunday.
The team has begun their AFC U20 Asian Cup qualifiers campaign with an emphatic 5-1 win against Hong Kong (China).
V-League regulars and former Việt Nam U23s players Đinh Xuân Tiến and Khuất Văn Khang were instrumental in the win on Wednesday, with Tiến scoring a brace and Khang with one goal.
Newcomers Nguyễn Quốc Việt and Nguyễn Đức Anh capped off a five-star victory for Việt Nam, both with a goal to their credit.
Former Thể Công legend Coach Đinh Thế Nam fielded his best players in the starting line-up, with captain Khang, who was earlier called up to the national team for friendlies at the end of September, and young V-League 1 starters Hồ Văn Cường and Đinh Xuân Tiến.
The current V-League 2 top scorer Nguyễn Thanh Nhàn was also in the starting line-up.
Việt Nam was in control of the game right off the bat, with many chances created in the first ten minutes. The Young Warriors however lacked the finesse and luck in the final touch.
But their relentless efforts finally paid off in the 25th minute, when Nguyễn Anh Tú's pass inside the box found Đinh Xuân Tiến, who hammered the ball to the top corner and opened the score for Việt Nam.
Only five minutes later, Việt Nam had another golden opportunity when Thanh Nhàn found Văn Khang free in the left wing. The captain tried a cross but a Hong Kong defender deflected the ball with his hand.
Female referee Oh Hyeon-Jeong was nearby and quickly pointed to the penalty spot, from which Nguyễn Quốc Việt made no mistake and doubled Việt Nam's lead before the break.
The men in red continued to pile on the pressure in the second half. In the 51st minute, 17-year-old Nguyễn Bảo Long's powerful left-footed cross reached Văn Khang outside the box, who connected with a powerful screamer and made it 3-0 for Việt Nam.
Seven minutes later, a mistake from Hong Kong keeper Pong Cheuk-hei led to a Việt Nam counterattack. The ball reached Thanh Nhàn, who again found Văn Khang free and onside. Another powerful shot from Việt Nam U20's captain made it 4-0 in just an hour of play.
Đinh Thế Nam's men took their foot off the gas and were caught off guard in the 68th minute when Chen Ngo-hin dribbled his way inside Việt Nam's box. The midfielder went down inside the box and referee Oh again pointed to the spot. Replays showed that Chen blatantly dived and there was no contact between him and Văn Khang.
Ellison Tsang faced off against keeper Đoàn Huy Hoàng from the penalty spot. Hoàng was able to save Tsang's shot but could not stop Tsang on the rebound, and Hong Kong got one back.
When everyone thought the match was all over, Việt Nam reclaimed their four-goal lead in the 94th minute with a beautiful aerial play that led to Nguyễn Đức Anh's free header into the back of the net.
Đức Anh's goal was crucial since it assured Việt Nam top spot after the first round of qualification group F, with Đinh Thế Nam's men ahead of Indonesia on goal difference. The hosts won 4-0 against Timor-Leste in the late match on Tuesday. — VNS