Sunday , May 19 2024

Vietnam advance to AFF U23 final after intense penalty shootout

Vietnam beat Timor Leste 5-3 in a penalty shootout in the semifinals of the AFF U23 Youth Championship Thursday night.

Vietnam only had 13 registered players after the rest contracted Covid-19. On the bench were just one goalkeeper and defender each.

With the team not having much time to train after the group stage, they found the going tough against Timor Leste. With the limited number of players available to play, they played gingerly and rarely pushed forward to avoid injuries.

But they had to make a substitution in the 53rd minute after center-back Doan Anh Viet was injured in a clearance attempt and Ho Khac Luong came in his place.

Now only keeper Tran Liem Dieu was left on the bench.

Three minutes later Vietnam got a chance to score when winger Nguyen Trung Thanh got a through ball and ran into the box. He tried to volley it into the far corner but missed.

As the match moved toward its final last minutes, the Vietnam players seemed to tire. Wingers Trung Thanh and Huynh Tien Dat lay on the ground at least thrice each with muscle problems. Sometimes Vietnam had to play with 10 men while waiting for players to return to the pitch.

In the 86th minute they had the best chance to finish off the game, but Vo Nguyen Hoang’s close-range header went over the bar.

After 90 minutes the teams entered extra time. After seven minutes Thanh was completely out of breath and could not continue, leaving coach Dinh The Nam no option but to sub him with keeper Dieu, who came on as a striker.

Both sides created a few chances during the extra 30 minutes but neither could convert them into a goal and the game entered the penalty shootout.

Both teams scored off the first three shots. But with the fourth for Timor Leste, Filipe Oliveira could not beat keeper Dang Tuan Hung, which meant Vietnam would go to the final if Nguyen Thanh Nhan converted the next kick. Nhan chose to shoot in the middle and sealed the victory for Vietnam.

The final against Thailand is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

AFF U23 Championship semifinals: Timor Leste 0-0 Vietnam (3-5 on penalty shootout)

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