It was a rematch between AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 finalists Vietnam and Malaysia in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi and the contest did not fail to entertain!
A Nguyen Quang Hai goal in the 40th minute of the game gave Vietnam their first win of the 2022 World Cup Qualification campaign as Malaysia fell to their second successive defeat after their 2-1 loss to the United Arab Emirates last month.
Here, we take a look at the five major talking points from the Group G fixture in the World Cup Qualifiers.
1) All eyes on Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium
The third matchday of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Joint-Qualifiers second round did have its fair share of one-sided games, but the meeting of the two ASEAN rivals was always going to be tightly-contested affair and the showpiece fixture of the day in Asia. And the build up to the game was pretty tense as well what with Vietnam head coach Park Hang-seo even accusing his Malaysian counterpart Tan Cheng Hoe of spying on his team’s training! Vietnam, having split points with Thailand in their opener, desperately needed a win to get their qualification campaign going while the impressive Malaysia, with a win and defeat in their first two outings, were confident of getting the job done against the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 champions.
2) A stop-start beginning
It wasn’t very tidy from the two sides, but it was hosts Vietnam who were understandably on the front foot in the early exchanges with their passionate support backing them. Malaysia were finding it difficult to deal with the quick breaks from the Vietnamese front three featuring Nguyen Van Toan, Quang Hai and Nguyen Cong Phuong with Hanoi FC starlet Quang Hai even putting the ball in the back of the net, albeit from an offside position around the half-hour mark. Cheng Hoe’s Malaysia had slowly grown into the game enjoying a bit more possession as the time passed, but the turning point in the game came in the 40th minute.
3) Clinical Vietnam!
Not many chances came Vietnam’s way in the first half, but great teams only need one look in to score and that is exactly what Park’s men did. Centre-back Que Ngoc Hai floated in a cross into the box and Quang Hai, marked tightly by the Malaysian backline, did just about enough to find the connection, while falling back, to put the ball past Johor Darul Ta’zim goalkeeper Farizal Marlias and give the Golden Dragons a crucial 1-0 lead with five minutes of the first half left to play. Malaysia would have felt hard done by, but should know that there is little margin for error when they face the reigning Southeast Asian champions.
4) Shahrul Saad heroics
Oh so close Vietnam!! Good run in behind from Trong Hoang, but Van Toan fans on his pull back and Anh Duc’s following shot is heroically blocked by Shahrul Saad on the goal line.
— Tomas Danicek (@TomDanicek) October 10, 2019
Malaysia could have found themselves further behind in the second half had it not been for their centre-back Shahrul Saad in the 73rd minute. Wing-back Nguyen Trong Hoang had made a marauding run into the box and then cut the ball back for Van Toan who fluffed his shot. However, the ball still made its way to Nguyen Anh Duc, who replaced Cong Phuong in the second half, and the veteran striker fired at the goal with Farizal off position. But the Perak TBG defender was at the right place at the right time to produce a goalline clearance and deny the hosts a second.
5) Vietnam up and running!
— FOX Sports Asia (@FOXSportsAsia) October 10, 2019
That counted for little as the match did finish 1-0 and Vietnam cruised to the final whistle pretty comfortably. The three points meant that Park’s side are up and running in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers with their first win. They are now currently on four points — level with Thailand — after playing two matches and will now host UAE in their next month on November 14. Meanwhile, Malaysia fell to their second straight defeat in the qualifiers after that narrow 2-1 defeat to favourites UAE at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on September 10. They will now host Thailand in their next outing next month.
(Photo credit: FA Malaysia)