Riedl praises opponents Vietnam ahead of semi-final showdown
Indonesia coach Alfred Riedl has claimed Vietnam are the second best team in the AFF Suzuki Cup ahead of first leg of the sides’ semi-final clash on Saturday.
Former Vietnam coach Riedl enjoyed three spells at the helm of the Golden Stars, his last stint ending in 2007, and will have to get the better of his former charges if Indonesia are to advance to their first final since 2010.
The Austrian has twice come up against Saturday’s opponents in recent friendlies, with the Garuda playing out a 2-2 draw in Yogyakarta in October before a 3-2 reversal in Hanoi three weeks ago.
“In my opinion they are the second best team in Southeast Asia behind Thailand,” said Riedl.
“They are an experienced team with talented players. Their coach [Nguyen Huu Thang], who is my former captain of the national team, is doing a good job there.
“It will be very difficult for us to advance to the final. They might be a little bit better than us, but they will have to prove it.”
A late goal from Stefano Lilipaly sparked jubilation among the Indonesia camp as Riedl’s side claimed a 2-1 victory over Singapore on Friday to progress to the last four at the expense of their opponents.
The Netherlands-based midfielder’s match-winning strike meant the four-time runners-up maintained their record of having scored two goals in each game in the regional competition to date.
But at the other end they have yet to keep a clean sheet, shipping seven goals in three matches against Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore.
Vietnam coach Nguyen Huu Thang was Alfred Riedl's former captain when he was in charge of Vietnam
Vietnam, meanwhile, qualified for the semi-finals with a 100% record following victories over Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia.
And within their ranks is two-goal hotshot Le Cong Vinh, who is just three goals away from becoming the tournament’s all-time leading goalscorer.
“I’ve known him personally for 13 years,” added the Austrian. “He’s a great guy and a good player.
“We’ve tried in our training to do some exercise because we know his movement. It will be difficult to stop him but we are prepared for this.
“But he is not alone, the other players are good also.”
After suffering an opening-day defeat to Thailand, Indonesia took four points from six to seal their last-four berth at the death.
“We came back from 0-1 [against Singapore] because the morale of the team is very good,” noted Riedl. “We tell them never to give up.
“We got a little bit of luck, but that was the luck we didn’t get in the matches before. We didn’t play one bad match in the group stage.”