BANGKOK – The Vietnam men’s football team waited two years for this opportunity.
Unfortunately, payback time for the Vietnamese will have to wait a little longer.
The Red Warriors failed to slay the ghost of the past as they fell anew to the Philippine Azkals, 1-0, in their Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup meeting ON Tuesday at the Rajamangala Stadium.
The Vietnamese came into the game looking to avenge their shock 2-0 loss to the same team in the 2010 edition of Southeast Asia’s premier tournament in what went down as the sports’ biggest upset of the year.
And as the top-ranked team (138) in the region today, the vengeful Vietnamese understandably came in as the favorites against the Filipinos.
But they later found the Azkals’ backline impenetrable.
“We couldn’t create the opportunities that we wanted,” Vietnam coach Phan Thanh Hung said through an interpreter after the game.
The Vietnamese’s best chance came shortly after the Azkals’ Chieffy Caligdong scored the opening goal in the 85th minute, when Le Tan Tai – the same player who scored in Vietnam’s 1-1 draw against Myanmar during the opener Saturday - found himself open on the left side of the box.
But his shot hit the top post and was cleared by Filipino-Spanish defender Juani Guirado, allowing the Azkals to preserve the win.
The loss obviously left a bitter taste in the mouth for the Vietnam coach, who stood motionless on the bench long after the game was finished and was left wondering what had hit his fancied team.
“It was the worst game I’ve seen them play since I first handled the team,” said Phan Thanh, who took over the team after Portuguese Henriqe Castillo was replaced following Vietnam’s upset loss to the Philippines two years ago.
The Vietnamese are currently in third place in Group A with only a point to show. They now need to win their last outing against host Thailand on Friday and hope the Azkals lose to Myanmar for them to advance to the semifinals.