Vietnam see off Malaysia to win AFF Suzuki Cup 2018

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Vietnam have been crowned champions of AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 after beating Malaysia 1-0 on Saturday to win the final 3-2 on aggregate.

Nguyen Anh Duc grabbed the only goal of the game at the My Dinh National Stadium after six minutes, which proved enough to hand the Golden Dragons only their second AFF crown after both sides had played out a 2-2 draw in Tuesday’s first leg in Kuala Lumpur.

On the other hand, Malaysia will have to wait at least another two years to add to their sole Suzuki Cup won in 2010, although they certainly emerged from the tournament with plenty of credit for a series of fine displays.

And they can also feel slightly hard done by from Saturday’s game as there was controversy in the way Vietnam scored the only goal of the game.

With just six minutes on the clock, Vietnam broke free down the left and Nguyen Quang Hai found enough space to chip a neat ball to the back post, which Anh Duc met with a sweetly-struck volley that Farizal Marlias got a hand to but could not keep out.

However, replays showed that Quang Hai might have been in an offside position before he delivered the telling pass, although the margin was truly too close to call.

Falling behind did not exactly change Malaysia’s mindset as they knew they had to score regardless, having conceded two away goals in the first leg.

Mohamadou Sumareh improvised well in the 11th minute to fire Malaysia’s first real warning shot, latching onto Safawi Rasid’s miscued attempt and going for goal with a backheel that sent the ball trickling just wide.

Syahmi Safari, who scored a wonder goal in the semi-finals against Thailand, came close to equalising a minute before halftime, meeting Sumareh’s cutback with a speculative attempt that forced Dang Van Lam into a flying save at full stretch.

The visitors continued to pile the pressure in the second half and Van Lam came to Vietnam’s rescue again in the 50th minute, making a fine reflex save to keep out a firm header from Sumareh and clawing the ball to safety after the second attempt.

But, as the game entered its closing stages, Vietnam showed just why they have been the best team in the tournament, keeping things tight at the back and showing excellent professionalism to see out the contest and be crowned champions of Southeast Asia.

VIETNAM: Dang Van Lam, Do Duy Manh, Tran Dinh Trong, Que Ngoc Hai, Nguyen Trong Hoang, Nguyen Huy Hung, Do Hung Dung (Luong Xuan Truong 90+3’), Doan Van Hau, Nguyen Quang Hai, Phan Van Duc (Nguyen Phong Hong Duy 71’), Nguyen Anh Duc (Ha Duc Chinh 81’).

MALAYSIA: Farizal Marlias, Syahmi Safari, Aidil Zafuan (Syafiq Ahmad 75’), Shahrul Saad, Syazwan Andik, Mohamadou Sumareh, Syamer Kutty Abba, Akram Mahinan (Shahrel Fikri Fauzi 85’), Safawi Rasid (Akhyar Rashid 83’), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Zaquan Adha.