HA NOI — The Vietnamese team are worried that the hometown crowd would again use flares and laser pointers against them in the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final match in Malaysia tomorrow.
Mai Duc Chung, head of the Viet Nam Football Delegation, said: “In the past, we played under the intense pressure of unfair play by local fans. These activities, which are a Malaysian habit inside the stadium, strongly affect our players’ competitive mindset.”
A laser pointer was reportedly used on Vietnamese goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong’s eyes. This forced him to make a mistake that led to a goal for Malaysia during their 2-0 win over Viet Nam at the AFF Cup’s semi-final match in 2010.
Coach Toshiya Miura has sent a message through local media, requesting fans to avoid unfair play to ensure the success of the match.
But his players are prepared for the unexpected. Goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh confirmed that if the organisers failed to prevent these ugly practices, the Vietnamese team would find a way to overcome these challenges.
Miura also expressed concern about the difference in prevailing weather conditions in Ha Noi and Shah Alam. The temperature in Ha Noi is currently about 20oC while in Malaysia, it hovers at 32oC in spite of persistent daily downpours.
But the Japanese coach expressed hopes that his team would easily cope with the heat and be in better condition after arriving at the venue three days ahead of the game.
At the pre-match briefing yesterday, Miura refused to reveal how Viet Nam would play the match, as his key striker, Vu Minh Tuan, would be suspended for his two yellow cards offence.
For his part, Malaysian chief coach Dollah Salleh revealed that his team aimed to win by at least two clear goals against Viet Nam.
“Playing at home should give us the motivation to win by at least two clear goals, if not three. That should be the target,” aseanfootball.org quoted Dollah as saying.
Malaysia will face Viet Nam at the 80,000-seat Shah Alam Stadium, which replaced the downgraded Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur.
In the other semi-final match at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, Thailand expect to grab a goal to stamp their authority against the Philippines.
“We must score at least an away goal,” said Thai coach Kiatisak Senamuang. “We have to seize the advantage. Otherwise, we will be under pressure playing at home for the return leg.”
Thailand were the only team to win all their matches in the group stage. They beat Singapore, 2-1, before edging Malaysia, 3-2, and winning against Myanmar, 2-0, in Group B.
Host coach Thomas Dooley expressed the belief that his players would find the drive to beat Thailand, saying their performances in the first two games against Laos and Indonesia were excellent, but they lost to Viet Nam either because the opponent were too good or they did not have the drive.
He noted that Thailand, which have a very young squad, played in a similar way against Viet Nam and remained a formidable opponent that would be difficult for his team.
The German-American mentor added that his team had a week to rest and was sure they would perform differently and play their best.