HANOI (9 June 2012) – Vietnam fell to a 3-0 loss to China at the Wuhan Sports Centre Stadium while Singapore held defending AFF Suzuki Cup champions Malaysia to a 2-2 draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
The Vietnamese, fielding their first ever local coach in 16 years with the recent announcement of Phan Thanh Hung in the hot seat, were forced to concede defeat to a more organized Chinese side, who had fallen to only a 1-0 loss to world champions Spain recently.
Vietnam started strongly with top striker Le Cong Vinh testing Chinese goalkeeper Zeng Cheng early in the second minute before the homesters replied with the lead on tenth minute when Gao Lin headed in a free kick from the left.
Two counter attacks later from Vietnam failed to break down the Chinese defence as the home team once again put their noses in front off a piece of individual skill from right-winger Feng Rengliang in the 34th minute.
The score at the half was 2-0 to China.
Cong Vinh’s failure to beat Zeng Cheng in a one to one situation saw Vietnam being punished further when Gao Lin added the second goal and China’s third in the 64th minute.
Vietnam will play Hong Kong tomorrow in Mongkok.
In the meantime, Singapore had to stage a late rally before they were able to hold current ASEAN champions Malaysia to a 2-2 draw.
The Malaysians, fresh from their scoreless draw against the Philippines last week, were more attack minded at the start although it took them until the 42nd minute of play before they were able to go in front through Azamuddin Mohd Akil.
With the score at 1-0 to Malaysia’s advantage, captain Safiq Rahim drilled home a freekick on 59th minute to put them 2-0 in front.
But in the last ten minutes controversy broke out when referee Ng Kai Lam from Hong Kong gave Singapore a penalty. But the shot from the spot in the 83rd minute off Qiu Li was saved by Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.
Some moments later, Kai Lam then awarded Singapore with a free kick inside the Malaysian box that was put to the back of the net by Shahdan Sulaiman. Qiu Li then made up for his earlier miss with a rifling shot deep in injury time for both teams to be tied 2-2.
“From my vantage point, I don’t think that the penalty was deserving. But whatever the case may be, we came to Singapore to play well and that was what we did,” added Datuk K. Rajagobal, the chief coach of Malaysia.
Malaysia will play Singapore again on 12 June 2012 in Kuala Lumpur.