Vietnam tops group after two wins at AFC U23 champs qualification

Le Thanh Binh of Vietnam (right) tries to pass Macau defender Hun Seng Kuai during their AFC U23 Championship qualifier ​on July 21 in HCM City (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam topped Group I, which saw the hosts beating Macau 8-1,
in the second-round match of the Asian Football Confederation U23 Championship
qualification in Ho Chi Minh City on July 21.

In an unexpected result, East Timor made a big bang as they held title
favourites South Korea to a 0-0 draw.

Facing a much weaker team, which is ranked 182nd in the world, 49 ranks lower
than Vietnam, coach Nguyen Huu Thang made eight changes in his line-up, compared
with the team that played during the first win over East Timor two days ago.

However, his altered team put in a good performance.

They needed just three minutes to open the score.

Midfielder Nguyen Van Toan’s shot was denied by the goalkeeper, but the ball
bounced back towards Le Thanh Binh, who made no mistake and scored the first
goal.

Toan then netted in a goal just four minutes later with a long finish to the
far corner.

National idol Nguyen Cong Phuong made it 3-0 from a penalty shoot-out at the
10-minute mark.

Ten minutes later Binh completed his doubles after his solo performance from
the left wing.

Midfielder Luong Xuan Truong, who was sidelined in the first match because of a
red card last year, marked his name on the board after converting a penalty
into the fourth goal for the hosts.

Defender Hoang Van Khanh headed in at the 27th minute to help Vietnam close the
first half with the scoreboard reading 6-0.

The Vietnamese players continued to dominate the game in the second half. They
netted twice in the second half, with midfielder Nguyen Phong Hong Duy and Van
Toan scoring in the process.

Macau, despite great efforts, failed to catch up with the host team.

They, however, found a goal to narrow the result when the Vietnamese defenders
slackened a bit.

Ng Wa Keng ran quietly to the back of the Vietnamese players to
receive a ball. He slowed down, sliced on the field and headed it in straight into
the net after defender Khanh missed the ball in his attempt to head it out.

It was the first goal for Macau after two matches. In the first match on July
19, they were defeated 0-10 by the Republic of Korea (RoK).

Meanwhile, it was the fourth win for Vietnam against Macau in their meetings so
far. In their last match, also at the Asian U23 qualification, Vietnam had won
7-0 in 2015.

After two wins, Vietnam lead the group with six points.

In the earlier game, East Timor pulled off a major surprise at the Thong Nhat
Stadium.

Last year’s first runners-up RoK also made eight changes to their starting
line-up, with the intention of resting their key players for the final group
match against the hosts tomorrow.

Despite the changes, the RoK still controlled possession and created several
chances to score.

However, their strikers could not break through the East Timor defence, who
played with steely resolve.

Park Seong-bu and Cho Young-wook tested East Timor goalkeeper Fagio Augosto da
Silva Perreira several times in the second half, but a goal was not
forthcoming.

“It’s really a surprise result because the RoK are a very strong team in
Asia.

They had many tall and good players; they used the long ball and my
players are short, so I think that my team is lucky today,” said East Timor
coach Kim Shin-hwan during the post-match briefing.

“I agree that our trip in the RoK before the tournament proved useful, and
we continued to train hard after that using the same methods. I think that one
of the main reasons we got a point today is the high spirits displayed by our
players. They showed good motivation in this game,” Kim was quoted as
saying on the-afc.com.

The RoK, who were expected to top the group, are now placed second with four
points.

The RoK’s coach Jeong Jeong-yong was disappointed with the unexpected
result.

“That’s football, sometimes you play well, sometimes you do not. We had
many chances to score, but my players missed them all. Timor-Leste had a good
and deep defensive line and a good combination today, congratulations to them,”
he said.

When asked about his plan for Vietnam, Jeong said the result was not good for
his team before the last game. However, he would require his players to train
hard and have a good preparation for the Vietnam game.-VNA



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