RAYONG (24 August 2023) – Defending champions Vietnam made the final of the AFF Under-23 Championship 2023 when they disposed of Malaysia 4-1 in Semifinal 1 which was played today at the Rayong Provincial Stadium.
The win over the Malaysians has also put Vietnam’s aspiration for back-to-back titles on track after picking up their first title last season in Cambodia.
“The target is to make the final. Now that we are here, I will sleep better tonight before thinking of my plans for the final game,” said Vietnam head coach Hoang Anh Tuan.
While Malaysia may have been a tad lucky in their last group game against Timor Leste, there was no escape this time round as any mistakes would be severely punished by a speedy Vietnamese side.
And it took Vietnam just eight minutes to break down the shoddy Malaysian defence when Nguyen Minh Quang ran down the right for a low cross that was slammed into goal by the unmarked Dinh Xuan Tien.
The lead gave Vietnam all the confidence they needed as they continued to push forward against a Malaysian side struggling to get their grip on the game.
In the 32nd minute, the loss of possession just outside the Malaysian box gave Vietnam just the opportunity they needed for Nguyen Quoc Viet to rifle in from distance to put the score at 2-0.
A thunderous shot from Khuat Van Khang in the 39th minute almost gave Vietnam their third goal of the game but for the scrambling block of Malaysian keeper Muhammad Rahadiazli Rahalim.
However, there was no preventing Vietnam from taking a 3-0 lead at the half when Xuan Tien made good on the cross from Nguyen Quoc Viet.
Malaysia’s several substitutions at the break gave the Malaysians a certain sense of confidence going forward.
And just five minutes in, they grabbed their first goal of the game with Alif Ikmarizal Anuar heading in the cross from Muhammad Aliff Izwan Yuslan.
The Malaysians tried to capitalise in their search for further goals but the Vietnam defence stood firm.
And as the frustrations grew in the Malaysian camp, it became obvious that there was no way back into the game with Vietnam quick to snuff out whatever hopes that’s left with five minutes remaining on the clock.
Bui Vi Hao with the cross and Nguyen Hong Phuc with the finish to give Vietnam their place in the final for the second year in a row.
“We made too many mistakes in the first half and allowed Vietnam to score three goals. That was the problem for us in the game,” added Malaysia head coach E. Elavarasan.
AFF UNDER-23 CHAMPIONSHIP 2023
RESULT – SEMIFINAL 1
Malaysia 1-4 Vietnam