Vietnam and Thailand closed the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 semifinals goalless at a match held on December 26 at Singapore’s National Stadium, leaving the defending champions 0-2 loss to War Elephants.
The results put the Golden Dragons the former champions of the biennial tournament despite efforts and excellent moments.
|Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Linh (white), Thailand's Theerathon Bunmathan (red) and Chatchai Bootprom (gk) in the match. Photo: Minh Duc/ HCMC Tourism Department|
Since the beginning of the match, the Vietnamese players quickly direct all lines to attack positions. By the time the game had just been running for 10 minutes, they had already got two attempted kicks.
One of them leads directly to the goal but the role of the Thai goalkeeper is still very strong to block it. Until the 25th minute, the Thai players often panicked in their own defense area.
Several times, Vietnam was able to release dangerous passes that fell behind the Thai defense. For example, in the 27th minute, Nguyen Tien Linh just faced goalkeeper Chatchai Bootprom. But he was ready to block the wild balls. Until finally, he had to sacrifice himself was injured and had to be replaced.
Vietnam’s best chance occurred in the 35th minute, with a free kick. Nguyen Quang Hai shot hard past the Thai fence, but the ball was still caught by newly-signed goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen.
In the 42nd minute, Vietnam almost opened the scoring through Ho Tan Tai’s header from a corner. Unfortunately, the ball went wide to the left of the goal.
The Vietnamese created a hard match that left Thai players working hard to defend their goal. This also made the referee give the additional time of up to 6 minutes. However, the match ended goalless.
Sharing at the post-match press conference, Thailand’s head coach Alexandre Pölking admitted that he was worried that Vietnam had a very good start. “They went high and put a lot of pressure. We knew we had to play solidly to stop them. We told each other to always stand firm because they would play attacking,” he said.
Thai midfielder Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul said the match versus Vietnam is the first match in the tournament the Thai team failed to score. “It is beneficial for us to eliminate Vietnam because they are the defending champions and very strong.”
The match closed with some compliments from Southeast Asian supporters who left comments on the AFF Suzuki Cup Fanpage.
Amirul Aiman said “This match should be the final match really. Vietnam was working hard to score, but the Thais absorbed the pressure well. Thailand vs Vietnam undoubtedly is El Clásico of ASEAN due to their representations on Asia stage.” (El Clásico or el clásico is the name given to any football match between rival clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.)
Napat Kebklang from Korat, Thailand, exclaimed “What a game! I could say that this is the most uncomfortable game in this tournament for me. Pressure, passion, emotion, everything! I admire both team that gave all their best to the game. Vietnam had very good attacking, the team had so many chances especially in the first half. Unluckily, the team couldn’t make it. Take some rest and focus on the World Cup Qatar.”
“I’m from Thailand. Even though Thai win but I think Vietnam play very well in the two games. I think Number 19 Nguyen Quang Hai is a very good player. He can improve himself in Japan or Korea,” commented Watcharapong Jongnok.
Ejark Hasam from Johor, Malaysia said “Thailand won the game but Vietnam won our hearts.” The comment greatly reflected the Vietnamese spirit as head coach Park Hang-seo said before the match “It will be a beautiful match, a battle without regrets for Vietnam.”
Giving post-match talks, Vietnam’s captain Que Ngoc Hai said the team had made great efforts and performed as if they fight for the last day. They said sorry to supporters and pledged better matches.