Asia: Champions Vietnam make it through to semi-finals
The semi-final line-up is now complete following the conclusion of Group B in the AFF Suzuki Cup, the tournament for south east Asian nations, today. Defending champions Vietnam squeezed into first place following a narrow win over Singapore. As a result Singapore went out of the competition as the Philippines, thanks to their draw against Myanmar, got the point necessary to leapfrog them into second place.
Before the final round of Group B matches got under way Vietnam were in third place in the four team table, one point behind Singapore and the Philippines. Their third game against Singapore was a must-win game, otherwise the champions would be facing certain elimination in front of their home fans in the National Stadium in Hanoi. There was only one goal in the game with Vietnam striking in the 32nd minute of the contest after Nguyen Vu Phong scored following a classic piece of counter-attacking play emanating from a Singapore corner. The game wasn’t without further drama, however, as the host side were reduced to ten men midway through the second half after Trong Hoang was cautioned for a second bookable offence. Despite having superior numbers Singapore were unable to break Vietnamese resistance and it meant that the defending champions were going through to the semi-finals. The Philippines could’ve gone through as group winners but had to be content with second place instead following a goalless draw against Myanmar. The Philippines had plenty of chances to win the game but Myanmar, despite losing their previous two matches, held firm and managed to secure their one and only point of the competition.
The semi-final line-up is now known following today’s action. The semi-final matches are usually played over two legs on a home and away basis although the Philippines have been told that they will be unable to hold their first leg at home by the tournament committee as there are no stadiums of sufficent quality in the country to hold a game of that magnitude. Instead they will have to play either at a neutral venue or play both legs against Indonesia in their opponents’ country.
SEMI-FINAL DRAW (Team on left at home in first leg)
Malaysia (2nd Group A) v Vietnam (1st Group B)
Philippines (2B) v Indonesia (1A)