09 December 2013

Vietnam crush Brunei

Monday, December 9, 2013
VIETNAM reopened some old wounds yesterday, breezing past Brunei 7-0 in their SEA Games football competition opener and reliving memories of the 8-0 thrashing they dealt the last time the two teams met.
Be it Jakarta in 2011 or Naypyidaw in 2013, some things remain the same.
Vietnam, semi-finalists every year since 2003 and finalists three times — but silver medalists in each occasion — once again proved a mountain too high to climb for Brunei in the Under-23 meet.
National coach Kwon Oh-son talked about the gulf in ability at least three times in his interview with The Brunei Times after the disappointing result at the imposing Zeyar Thiri Football Stadium, and it was easy to see why.
Technically better and tactically superior, Vietnam switched play with ease, spread the ball with precision and carved open space on the flanks at the flick of a switch.
Crosses into the box that weren't dealt with were punished mercilessly — the first three goals all came from defensive errors inside the box — and when they weren't busy tormenting Brunei's back four, their smooth one-two passes and well practiced off-the-ball running meant that there was only going to be one winner on the day.
“Before the game I told the team to focus on (defensive) cover play and organisation — it didn't work,” said Kwon.
“Vietnam's level and Brunei's level... It's different,” he said, not needing to explain any further.
Last night's other match saw Singapore held to a 1-1 draw against a Laos side playing with 10 men for nearly the whole game after skipper Khampoumy Hanevilay was sent off after two minutes.
While Vietnam now top Group A with a win their coach Hoang Van Phuc has called “inspiring”, Brunei face an uphill struggle to progress past the group stage.
More worrying is the fact they haven't scored in their last four games.
Brunei went down 5-0 to Thai Premier League side Chiangrai United FC in the last of their three friendly games against Thai sides last month, previously going down 2-0 to the same side and 2-0 to the Thai national Under-23 team – who are second behind hosts Myanmar in Group B.
Brunei's inability to find the back of the net wasn't due to a lack of trying though, and to their credit, they never stopped pressing their opponents deep inside their own half and did well to harry goalkeeper Tran Buu Ngoc when the ball was played back to him.
They ran the whole 90 minutes, put in some strong challenges — which were perhaps lucky not to be punished by Myanmarese referee Win Cho — and were persistently hungry to win the ball.
It was their final touch, a lack of finesse even, that separated the two sides.
Though Brunei did look threatening on the right flank, Vietnam's defence made sure no dangerous crosses would reach the box.
And the few chances Brunei had to put in an incisive through ball down the middle was met by either a heavy foot or a loose pass — though Mohd Mazazizi Mazlan really should have done better when he was one-on-one with Buu Ngoc in the 52nd minute. His shot lacking the sting needed to trouble the keeper.
On the other end of the field, Ak Omar Aqamuddin Pg Sallehuddin did a superb job between the sticks in place of Md Fakhrul Zulhazmi Yussof — who is not in Myanmar after fracturing his finger during the Thai training stint.
Ak Omar produced several point blank saves, and if not for his quick reflexes, the scoreline would have been more than 3-0 at the break.
Vietnam made it 4-0 when Le Van Thang volleyed home a cross from the left in the 53rd minute, and Vietnam's players started to take their foot off the gas after the fourth goal and were slow to clear the ball from the back, which Brunei looked like taking advantage of several times.
But the problem with pushing too many players up the pitch is that a team is vulnerable to counter-attacks, and a perfect example of that came in the 65th minute when Brunei lost the ball while attacking.
It was expertly played to space in the left flank, with the ensuing cross — and the botched clearance that came after it — leading to Tran Manh Dung picking up the ball and unleashing for 5-0.
It was 6-0 three minutes later when Mac Hong Quan received a quick pass, turned the ball past his markers and scored from inside the box.
Tran Phi Son found more gaps on the left in the 82nd minute and deftly cut past three players to score from outside the box to complete the scoring.
Though Ak Omar probably could have saved the dipping shot, there was nothing the goalkeeper — or the rest of his teammates — could have done to save themselves from such a rampant Vietnam side.
Defending champions Malaysia are next tomorrow, and a positive result will go a long way in erasing some painful memories.
The Brunei Times

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