Tuesday , February 7 2023

Whoever score first in AFF Cup final second leg will be champions: football pundit


Former Thailand national coach and football pundit Steve Darby said Vietnam need discipline and a bit of luck to win Thailand in the second leg of AFF Cup final Monday.

What is your take on the first leg?

If I was a neutral fan, I would say it was a great game, especially the second half. Both sides had spells of dominance and both sets of fans thought they were going to win. But if you are honest the Thais will be far happier with the draw especially with two away goals.

Some said Vietnam were lucky to get a draw, do you think so?

No, I think it was a fair result, both sides had chances and good spells of possession. Remember some fans are never happy!

How good was Thailand’s Theerathon Bunmathan in the match? Do you think he’s a class above the other players at the match?

I thought he was superb and definitely man of the match. He usually plays as a left-back but he was surprisingly good when put into midfield and dominated that area. It shows the benefit of being a regular in J. league. I gave him his SEA Games debut in 2009, he was a player with great talent then but didn’t have much discipline. But he has matured both on and off the pitch and turned into a great professional. That’s exactly what the best Vietnamese players should be doing, going to the J and K. Leagues to improve.

Can you analyze the two goals which Vietnam conceded?

I think they were two good well taken goals. In the first one the goalkeeper might have committed himself too early and stayed low rather than moving up. I thought the second was initially offside but the TV commentator later told me that a Vietnamese defender didn’t go up, so in reality it was a badly timed run by the striker turned into a great run!

Were there any differences between both teams in the setup or tactics today, compared to the last matches?

Yes. Thailand played a back three and swamped the midfield with numbers and that allowed Theerathon to dominate. It was a well-planned surprise.

Do you think coach Mano Polking got the tactics right?

The answer is in the result! A draw away from home and two away goals so yes, he deserves great praise.

How did midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai perform?

Quang Hai is overestimated and overpraised by the Vietnamese media and hence by the fans. He is labeled with the ridiculous nickname of the Vietnamese Messi. He is still learning the game and needs to get back to France as soon as possible and learn to be a great professional. He does well at ASEAN level, but he has to do it at Asian level and in big games.

How important is the second goal of Vietnam?

Second goal was vital. Vietnam just have to win the next game now. They can’t draw (unless its 3-3). The key to the second game is who scores the first goal. That goal will decide the final.

Vietnam had one more day to rest than Thailand before the game, but it seemed we got tired faster than them. Why?

Being tired is just an excuse that media and fans look for, and it possibly shows that the standard of the Thai League is better than V. League and the Thai are getting more regular high-standard games.

Any advice before the second leg?

I hope Vietnam do well and coach Park Hang-seo gets the farewell game he deserves after magnificent years. With hard work and discipline (which Vietnam always have) plus a little bit of luck, they will have a chance. But the odds are in favor of Thailand.

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