| PHNOM PENH (August 28, 2007) – Laos scored an upset in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-17 Championship this year when they beat defending champions Vietnam 4-2 to emerge as Group B winners here at the National Olympic Stadium.
“We played against a strong team today and I have to admit that Vietnam played better in the first half than we did,” said Laos head coach Soulivanh Xuenvilay, whose team will take on Indonesia in the semi-finals of the meet in two days.
“But in spite of the score line, I thought that we were lucky to beat Vietnam. At the very least, the two teams from today’s match will be playing in the semi-finals this year.”
Needing at least a draw to make the last four of the tournament, Laos came into the game with all guns blazing as Kita Souksabai tested Vietnam keeper Ho Ngoc Thein in the tenth minute with a swerving free kick which was parried out.
And just as Laos were steadily building the pressure on their opponent, Vietnam took advantage to steal the lead in the 15th minute when Nguyen Dinh Loi’s free kick was perfectly met by Hoang Van Nhuan for the lead.
Kita then replied Laos in the 25th minute but his attempt was thwarted by recovering defender Nguyen Minh Tung while in the 39th minute, Sopha Saysana broke through the Vietnam defence only to see his shot being blocked.
But there was no denying Laos the equaliser in the 44th minute when Sopha unleashed a stiff grounder from inside the Vietnam box for both teams to start the second half on level terms.
In the 62nd minute Phettikone Pangnasith took advantage of a rebounder to slam home to give Laos the lead for the first time in the game before Khouanta Sivongthong extended it to two goals advantage in the 75th minute when he scored off a cross from Sopha.
Vietnam fought back to score their second goal of the afternoon off a header from Nguyen Minh Tung in the 88th minute but that goal proved to be futile as Laos completed their control of the second half with a neat one-two with Tam Phimmasone before Kita blasted home from close range.
“Even though we played well in the first half, we lost shape in the second and that gave Laos acres of space,” said Vietnam head coach Dinh Hong Vinh.
“Obviously we have to work on the team’s tactical discipline in these two days (before we face Thailand in the semi-finals).”
Laos’ win not only gave them the group and forced Vietnam to face Thailand; it also denied Myanmar the chance to play in the last four.
FINAL GROUP B STANDING
1. LAOS 6pts (+4); 2. VIETNAM 6pts (+1); 3. MYANMAR 4pts (+1); 4. SINGAPORE 1pt (-6)
August 30, 2007: THAILAND vs VIETNAM/ LAOS vs INDONESIA