| HO CHI MINH CITY (8 Oct 2008) – Hosts Vietnam provided a stunning start to the AFF Women’s Championship here when they upstaged defending champions Myanmar 3-1 in an opening Group A match at the Thanh Long Stadium this evening.
Star striker Do Thi Ngoc Cham was on fire as she blasted two goals to move Vietnam closer to a place in the semifinals.
In another match from the same group held later today, Laos edged Indonesia 1-0 after skipper Sochitta Phonhalath smashed in a late penalty.
For Vietnam, who finished third in last year’s tournament held in Myanmar, today’s victory was a massive morale booster for the team which is among the favourites to lift the title this year.
Ngoc Cham, who forged a formidable partnership with Bui Thi Tuyet Mai upfront, were taking shots at their opponent’s goal early in the game.
And it took 21 minutes before the Myanmar wall came was breached. Ngoc Cham coolly first-timed a cross from Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet.
The humidity certainly go to the players who started the first part of the second half very tamely.
After several close calls, Ngoc Cham doubled the score when she swept in a low corner kick.
Myanmar had their chances too but it was in the 72nd minute before they could celebrate.
Aye Nandar Hlaing’s freekick was simply too solid for Vietnam keeper Dang Thi Kieu Trinh to turn away.
But the keeper turned hero a few minutes later.
Myanmar blew their chance to level the score when skipper San San Maw’s spot kick was pushed out by Kieu Trinh.
“The outcome could have been different for us if the penalty went in, but these things happen,” said Myanmar coach Tin Myint Aung.
And with time almost up, Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Nga crashed a low shot that hit the left post and turn into goal.
Myint Aung explained his loss: “Physically we are the same. But today, they were tactically better than us and that’s why they won.”
Vietnam’s Chinese coach, Chen Yun Fa, reminded the journalists the post match conference that Myanmar were one of the best teams in the region.
“They are the champions and one of the better sides, so this is a good win for us. Myanmar were fast and we lost possession but the girls always fought back,” he said.
In the other match meanwhile, both Laos and Indonesia were evenly contested. Both sides displayed enormous fighting spirit and both had their share of chances in front of goal.
With the match looking headed for a draw, Indonesia’s inexperienced defender brought down Laos striker Souphavanh Phayvanh in the box.
Sochitta stepped up and made her shot count.
PIC: Two-goal hero Ngoc Cham of Vietnam