HANOI (Dec 28): The Malaysian Tigers failed to roar in their match against Vietnam and suffered a 0-3 defeat at the hands of the home team in the 2022 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup Group B match amidst much controversy as both teams were reduced to 10-man at the My Dinh National Stadium here last night.
Match referee Ryuji Sato from Japan gave the marching orders to Vietnam striker Nguyen Van Toan in the first half, and to Malaysian defender Muhammad Azam Azmi Murad in the second half.
The match kicked off in rather windy and chilly conditions, with the Malaysian Tigers finding difficulties finding their footing early on due to what could be regarded as a damp and slippery pitch, but as the match progressed they were able to adapt to the conditions.
Contrary to how the Malaysian squad fared, the Vietnam strike force was causing all sorts of problems although it was Malaysia that drew first blood through Muhammad Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi in the ninth minute.
Possession was almost equal for both teams, until Vietnam earned a corner on the right flank and the complexity of the match took a drastic change when the ‘Golden Star Warriors’ coached by Park Hang Seo raced into the lead when Nguyen Tien Linh’s downward header off skipper Do Hung Dung’s corner bounced into the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Ahmad Syihan stranded in the 29th minute.
Just minutes after taking the lead, Vietnam was reduced to 10-man, when Van Toan who had already been booked earlier was shown a second yellow card and the marching orders by the referee for a foul on Dominic Tan.
Five minutes later, Malaysia had a good opportunity to equalise but R Ruventhiran’s hurried shot from inside the box went wide, while another worthy attempt by Muhammad Mukhairi from close range was tipped over by the lanky Dang Van Lam in goal.
The second half was embroiled in controversy when the Japanese referee sent off Malaysian defender Muhammad Azam for an apparent foul outside of the playing area on Doan Van Hau, and also awarded Vietnam a penalty that was tucked away by Que Ngoc Hai in the 64th minute.
Malaysia’s South Korean coach Kim Pan Gon brought in young striker Nur Shamie Iszuan Amin and naturalised Malaysian Sergio Aguero to beef up the attack, but both failed to make an impact on the scoreline.
Instead, Vietnam went on to stretch the lead in the 83rd minute and seal the victory when Nguyen Hoang Duc finished off a lovely pass from Nguyen Quang Hai to maintain their unbeaten record against Malaysia since 2014.
The win last night, their second consecutive victory, gave Vietnam six points and moved to the top of Group B, although Malaysia who are now second with six points but have played three matches and Singapore in third place, also have six points – Malaysia have a better goal difference.
Singapore, who beat Myanmar 3-2 two days ago, registered a 2-0 win over Laos in another Group B match last night, and Malaysia must, therefore, beat Singapore at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil in their next match on Jan 3, to have any chance of making it to the semifinals. — Bernama