|On his heels: Forward Francis Forkey Doe of Malaysia's Kalantan tries to get past a Ninh Binh defender. — VNA/VNS Photo Quoc Khanh
NINH BINH (VNS) — Coach Nguyen Van Sy of Ninh Binh and his team could not be happier than the convincing win 4-0 against the guests Kelantan of Malaysia yesterday afternoon.
With the result, the Vietnamese club win the first Group G ticket to the knockout round of the AFC Cup 2014.
Before the game on the home ground yesterday, Ninh Binh were already on top of the group after three consecutive wins, whilst their rival were placed third in the group with three points.
Due to injuries and penalty cards, Coach Stephen Darby's team arrived in Viet Nam with only 15 players, including two goalies. Forward Ahmad Shakir Mohd Ali and midfielder Mohd Khairul Izuan Rosli were not present for the game.
The match started at a slow pace as the two sides adopted a cautious approach. In the seventh minute, however, the Ninh Binh Stadium exploded with cheer, as the hosts scored the first goal.
The club's foreign striker, Bryan Kavin Elroy, passed the ball to forward, Petrisor Voinea, who skilfully dodged a Kelantan defender and kicked the ball towards the rival's net from a 17-meter distance.
Petrisor's goal lifted the morale of the entire team who then quickly took control of the game. The Kelantan goal was in danger at least three times as midfielder Hoang Danh Ngoc and defender Le Van Duyet came close to scoring goals. The host might have raised the final result if midfielder Le Van Thang's goal was not disqualified by the referees who believed that the Vietnamese player was in an offside position.
Again, in the seventh minute of the second half, Ninh Binh player, forward Phan Anh Tuan, scored their second goal from a distance of 20 metres. Tuan's shot at the goal was so precise that Malaysia's goalkeeper Muhammad Syazwan Yusoff failed despite trying his best to catch the ball by leaping towards it.
The second goal further dented the confidence of Kelantan's players to seek an honourable win, thereby making their defence even weaker. At the 70th minute, Coach Sy replaced midfielder Ngoc with foward Pham Van Quyen.
With just five minutes on the ground, Quyen exhibited clever tactics to retain the ball and passed it through to midfielder Thang, who scored a goal from a position close to the rival's goalpost. At that moment, Ninh Binh felt that they had secured a 3-0 victory.
The nightmare did not end for Kelantan until the fourth goal was scored by striker Bryan of the Vietnamese team in the final minutes of the match.
By winning four matches, Ninh Binh earned a total of 12 points. The team topped Group G and earned the first ticket to the knockout round, comprising 16 teams.
"We were fully stretched during the game to claim the victory against Kelantan," Coach Sy stated after the match.
"I had hoped for three, but then we got 4 goals. Our players truly deserve this result. This is the first time during the tournament that I felt completely satisfied with them," Sy added.
"In the coming matches, Ninh Binh will try to remain on top of the Group and to win the rights to play on the home turf in the first knockout round," Sy remarked.
Kelantan's Coach Darby was evidently very disappointed with the results and did not blame the poor quality of the ground surface as the two sides had played under the same conditions.
The Ninh Binh players were quicker and more active than the Kelantan players, he pointed out, partly because their players had undergone a 16-hour long journey from Malaysia.
He also added that he was impressed with the performance of Petrisor and Hoang of the home team and was delighted to see forward Quyen whom he believes is a great player. —VNS