Coach Park: a 1-0 win is enough for Viet Nam to be AFF Cup champion
VGP — Coach Park Hang-seo Viet Nam had nothing to worry because a 1-0 win over Thailand was enough to take the AFF Cup trophy home.
Viet Nam tied Thailand 2-2 in the first leg match of final on January 13 at the Ha Noi's My Dinh Stadium.
Following a tense opening period, Viet Nam opened the lead in the 24th minute with a diving header from striker Nguyen Tien Linh off an inch-perfect cross from defender Que Ngoc Hai.
A smashing freekick from Thai captain Theerathon Bunmathan that rocked the woodwork just before the break saw the score standing at 1-0 to Viet Nam's advantage.
But the pep talk during the breather breathed further urgency into the Thai game as Bunmathan's floater in the 48th minute was picked up by Poramet Arjvirai, who fired past two defenders for the equalizer.
In the 63rd minute, Bunmathan was again in the thick of things with a superb through ball for Sarach Yooyen to beat Vietnamese custodian Dang Van Lam for the second time on the night.
But just when Thailand thought they had the game in the bag, a defensive lapse in dealing with a corner in the 88th minute allowed substitute defender Vu Van Thanh to fire in the equalizer.
"We just need to beat them 1-0 to triumph the Cup, we don't have to be pessimistic," said Park at the post-match conference.
"Every team has its advantages and disadvantages. None is perfect. We will have to try all our best for good result.
"To me, this is the last match on the home turf as the head coach of the national team of Viet Nam. I really wanted to have a win as a gift for the supporters. I am sorry that I can't do it.
"I have to thank my players who didn't give up. They did great job until the last minutes," he said.
The South Korean tactician added that Thailand had an advantage after the draw because of the away goal rule. However, Viet Nam would not surrender. The two-time champion would bring from a win from Bangkok.
Speaking to reporters after the game, goalie Lam said: "It was a good game. The 2-2 draw showed the competitiveness of the final".
"We fought really hard and levelled the score in the last minutes. We still have chance to win in the second leg match. There are 90 minutes ahead. We will have to practise harder in the coming days to have better result than today," said the record maker.
Before conceding the first goal this match, Lam kept his sheet clean in 588 minutes, a tournament record.
On the visiting side, coach Mano Polking was pleased with the draw, saying it was better than his expectation.
"Thai players did good job today. 2-2 is nearly a perfect score. We targeted one goal so two goals were very good. The goal conceded in the last minutes reduced the match perfection," Polking said.
The German said Viet Nam had a good start but Thailand made it balanced from the 25th minute. In the second half, an early goal helped players confident to open more attacks and score.
"We netted two goals on away ground. It was a good result for us and helped us when return home for the second leg," said midfielder Bunmathan.
"Don't think about Viet Nam's last minute goal, don't feel bad about it. We should have positive mindset and never give up. We will be the champions on home turf," the Man of the Match told himself and his teammates.
The second-leg match will be held in Bangkok on January 16.
Viet Nam team land in Bangkok on January 14. They will not have time to rest but practise in the afternoon at the Thammasat Stadium./.