Vietnam Crashes out of AFF Cup

Defending champions Vietnam ended their AFF Cup run after losing 0-2 to Thailand in the first leg of the semifinal and failing to level in the second leg on December 26.
December 27, 2021 | 07:56
Vietnam become the former champions of the AFF Suzuki Cup after losing 0-2 on aggregate against Thailand.
Nguyen Quang Hai (right) takes a freekick during the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 football semi-final match between Vietnam and Thailand at the National Stadium in Singapore on December 26. Photo: AFP photo

Vietnam held Thailand to a goalless draw in the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 semi-final on December 26, but it was not enough to salvage their title defence campaign as the War Elephants advanced to the final match with an aggregate 2-0 victory.

Vietnam headed into the match knowing that they must beat the Thais by a margin of at least two goals in order to keep their chances of advancing alive, according to Nhan dan (People) newspaper.

Park Hang-seo’s players demonstrated their determination by proactively pressuring from the first whistle.

Vietnam Crashes out of AFF Cup
Vietnamese players show their determination during the match. Photo: Nhan dan (People) newspaper

It took the 2018 champions just four minutes to produce the first threat, with Quang Hai blasting a quick fire from close range that found the position of goalkeeper Chatchai Bootprom.

The playmaker then sent a number of clever passes to teammates to pour constant pressure on Thailand’s goal.

The Golden Star Warriors should have gone ahead in the 28th minute when Quang Hai curled a subtle long pass to put Tien Linh in a one-on-one with Chatchai Bootprom, but the Thai goalkeeper decisively dashed forward to make a timely rescue.

The attempt also forced Chatchai off injured and replaced by Siwarak Tedsungnoen.

Vietnam Crashes out of AFF Cup
Photo: Nhan dan (People) newspaper

In the remainder of the first half, Vietnam again missed two golden opportunities to get off the mark, with Quang Hai’s powerful freekick being saved by Siwarak (37’) and Ho Tan Tai’s header skidding off the post (45’).

After the interval, forwards Nguyen Cong Phuong and Nguyen Van Toan came off the bench as Park sought to intensify their attacking power.

Vietnam remained the better side, with Quang Hai coming inches within of breaking the deadlock in the hour mark, but his wonderful freekick was smartly saved by Siwarak.

With time running out, the Thai goalkeeper continued to perform brilliantly preventing Vietnam’s attempts from being successfully converted.

Vietnam Crashes out of AFF Cup
Vietnam (in white) demonstrate an excellent fighting spirit but could not finish off chances to reverse the game. Photo: Nhan dan (People) newspaper

The stalemate was kept unchanged until the final whistle despite the concerted efforts made by the Golden Star Warriors.

The result meant Park’s side became the former champions, while Thailand will meet Indonesia in the title decider on December 29 (first leg) and January 1, 2022 (second leg).

Bangkok Post said Thailand will be appearing in the final for the ninth time, facing an Indonesia side looking to claim the country's first title since the competition was created in 1996.

Shin Tae-yong's side reached the final after seeing off Singapore in a drama-filled second leg of their semi-final on Saturday, advancing 5-3 on aggregate following a 4-2 victory in extra-time in the second leg.

Indonesia have played in five finals and the clash with Thailand is a rematch of the 2016 decider, which the Thais won 3-2 on aggregate.

The first leg will be played on December 29 and the second leg three days later.

The competition is being played in a biosecure bubble in Singapore to reduce travel as a result of restrictions around the region due to Covid-19.

The tournament was originally scheduled to be played last year but was postponed because of the pandemic./.

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