>>> Vietnam secure ticket to AFF Cup finals
>>> International media impressed with Vietnam’s AFF Cup final berth
>>> Park Hang-seo thanks players for a great match
After four matches in the semifinals (both away and return leg fixtures), there were 10 goals scored, with an average of 2.5 goals per game, lower than in the group stage (over three goals per game), reflecting the cautious, tight play, and determination of the teams in the knockout round.
Intensity and drama were also on show in each match. As in the semi-final second leg match between defending champions Thailand and visitors Malaysia at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, football lovers witnessed a thrilling game. Thailand twice took the lead but were level 2-2 after 90 minutes. In the last minute of injury time, Thai striker Adisak Kraisorn missed a golden change to send his team to the final, as he fired the penalty kick over the bar, thus forcing the home team to be eliminated by the away goal rule (the two teams drew 0-0 in the first leg).
Eliminating defending champions Thailand in the semi-finals proved to be a great success for coach Tan Cheng Hoe’s side. Many argue that veteran striker Talaha and his teammates won the ticket to the final thanks to their confidence and the determination to fight hard, while knowing how to take advantage of each opportunity. Their hard work and determination helped them overcome difficulties in the visit to Bangkok. Even Thailand’s manager Milovan Rajevac also admitted that the Malaysian team have improved a lot compared to the group stage. If their strikers can finish more accurately, they can win this year’s title.
Malaysia dethroned Thailand in the semis to progress to the final at the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 with Vietnam. (Photo: AFF Suzuki Cup)
With two wins against the Philippines with the same 2-1 score over two legs, the Vietnam national squad under coach Park Hang-seo impressed a lot of professionals and their supporters. Under the guidance of the Korean strategist, the Vietnamese players are energetic and stay focused on each game, with diverse tactical plays to take advantage.
According to FOX Sports Asia, Vietnam are an unpredictable team, playing effectively at the AFF Cup 2018. In the history of the tournament, this is the third time that Vietnam have booked their berth to the final of the region’s biggest football competition, after the three 10-year cycle in 1998, 2008 and 2018. In 1998, Vietnam were the runners-up, in 2008 they were crowned champions. In 2018, millions of football fans in the S-shaped country believe that, with deep squad strength and the current impressive form (five wins and one draw after six games, scoring 12 goals but conceding only two), the chance for Vietnam to win the second AFF Cup is very high.
Millions of Vietnamese football fans believe that the chance for Vietnam to win the second AFF Cup is very high. (Photo: AFF Suzuki Cup)
Regarding the Philippines, although there have been many professional advances in the recent AFF Cup tournaments as they have entered several semi-finals recently, the team still use only long balls in attack. The ineffectiveness of the dead ball situation also makes them more deadlocked when confronted with the Vietnamese team, especially when the red-shirt defenders had multiple disciplined games in defence.
According to the organisers’ schedule, Vietnam will visit Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on December 11 to play the first leg of the final with hosts Malaysia. The return leg will take place four days later at Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium. The opportunity is divided equally for both teams.