Vietnamese fans in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City had anticipated basking in the glory of their team against Malaysia at the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup, but the amateur performance of their beloved footballers only left them in tears and deep bitterness.
There was no celebration, no rushing to the street to revel in national pride after the second leg of the semifinal between Vietnam and Malaysia at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on Thursday, as the visitorsstaged a miracle to win 5-4 on aggregate to advance to the Cup finale against Thailand.
The 4-2 away victory was sweet revenge for Malaysia, who suffered a 1-2 home defeat against Vietnam in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
The Vietnamese players were not frightened by 80,000 Malaysian fans at Shah Alam Stadium, but played as if they were novices in front of 50,000 home supporters in the capital city.
At least 50,000 diehard fans filled the 40,000-seat stadium to cheer on their beloved team, who in return failed them by conceding four goals in the first half.
The stadium fell into dead silence before the break, as what had happened was beyond their wildest imagination.
“I don’t understand why Vietnam lost,” Nguyen Van Hung, who traveled 100km from Phu Tho Province to Hanoi for the match, said.
Hung had to queue at 2:00 am to be able to buy four tickets and skipped work to come to My Dinh, he said.
“I don’t understand why we could be defeated so fast, so easily while we had an amazing first-leg game.”
In Ho Chi Minh City, thousands of supporters flocked to cafés, restaurants and eateries to watch the national team.
Around 7,500 fans chose to watch the match on wide screens at the Youth Culture House. Many of them wore red T-shirts and prepared national flags for a celebration.
But the huge eagerness, anticipation and hope turned into disappointment and sadness as coach Toshiya Miura and his men could not advance, even though leading striker Le Cong Vinh gave them a glimmer of hope with his two goals to narrow the gap to 1-2 and 2-4.
See how upset and frustrated the Vietnamese fans were last night in these photos taken by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters.
Mistakes and own goal
The Vietnamese hosts needed only one point to make it to the last game but their defenders played like amateurs in the encounter last night thus ‘presented’ most of the goals to the visitors.
In the second minute, defender Ngoc Hai played foul against Malaysian midfielder Indra Putra from behind when he was in the box and Malaysia were awarded a penalty shot.
This stemmed from an awkward Vietnamese formation easily losing the ball to their rivals right from the beginning of the game. Defender Safiq Rahim defeated Vietnamese goalkeeper Nguyen Manh to open the scoring.
In the first leg in Kuala Lumpur, it was Rahim who scored the opener for his team from the penalty spot before Vietnam netted two goals to seal a 2-1 win.
In the 15th minute, keeper Manh and defender Van Bien ‘gifted’ Malaysia the second goal following a long pass by midfielder Badhri Radzi. Bien and Manh resigned the ball to each other, giving defender Idlan Talaha the chance to have the ball and double the advantage to 2-0.
Six minutes later, Vietnam shortened the gap to 1-2 thanks to a goal from the penalty kick after attacking winger Nguyen Van Quyet was pulled down in the Malaysian box. Le Cong Vinh stepped forward and subdued the Malaysian goalie.
In the 29th minute, Malaysia went up 3-1 after Vietnam’s central defender Tien Thanh ‘donated’ the visiting team another score through an own goal.
Malaysia extended the gap to 4-1 from a corner kick on the right in the 43rd minute. The ball was crossed to the Vietnamese box and striker Fadhli Shas headed it to unmarked defender Shukor Adan who headed home neatly and easily.
The hosts again shortened the difference to 2-4 following a quick shot by Le Cong Vinh in the 79th minute. From an attack launched from midfield, Vinh was set up in a favorable position and blasted a shot to defeat Malaysian keeper Farizal Marlias.
Beating Vietnam 5-4 on aggregate, Malaysia will play in the AFF Cup final with Thailand on a home and away basis on December 17 and 20.
The Thais trounced the Filipinos 3-0 in Bangkok on Wednesday after a goalless draw in Manila on Saturday last week.