Nguyen Huu Thang: Vietnam still have a big chance
Vietnam coach Nguyen Huu Thang was satisfied with his side’s performance despite going down 2-1 to Indonesia in the first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final at Stadion Pakansari on Saturday.
Huu Thang’s side went into the clash as slight favourites on the back of three successive wins in the group stage but fell behind early on when Hansamu Pranata headed home from a corner.
Nguyen Van Quyet equalised from the spot on 17 minutes but a Boas Salossa penalty five minutes after the restart won the tie for the Garudas to leave Vietnam with a one-goal deficit to overcome in Hanoi in four days’ time.
“We lost but my players showed their true style of play today and that made me happy,” said Huu Thang.
“We showed mental toughness and competed very well on the field. I think a draw would have been a fair result but it wasn’t to be.”
The 2008 champions got off to the worst possible start in front of a rapturous home support but recovered well to draw level and shaded an entertaining first half.
Indonesia came out of the blocks firing in the second half and for a period after Salossa’s penalty it looked like they could have added a third.
But Huu Thang’s team withstood the pressure before finishing the tie the stronger ahead of the second leg in Hanoi on Wednesday.
“We still have a match at home so we still have a big chance,” added Huu Thang.
“I was not surprised by the strength of Indonesia because such enthusiastic fans makes them stronger. I am not happy they scored from a penalty; however, I believe in my players.”
Indonesia had previously conceded seven goals in theirthree group stage games and, with defenders Fachruddin Aryanto and Rudolof Basna suspended for the first leg, will be happy to have put in their best defensive showing of the tournament.
Alfred Riedl’s side will now need an equally impressive performance at the back if they are to keep out Vietnam in the second leg.
“Indonesia pressured my players well today and I want to congratulate them for winning the game,” said Huu Thang.
“But the one away goal can be in our advantage when we play in Hanoi. The result was difficult to take but we are confident we can still win.”