Vietnam rout Brunei 6-0 despite resting key players
Resting some stars, Vietnamese rout minnows with a late goal rush
(Le Thanh Binh 25, Tran Phi Son 47, Mac Hong Quan 75, Pham Duc Huy 78, Nguyen Cong Phuong 82, Pham Manh Hung 89)
Toshiya Miura may have played down his side's chances of winning the gold medal at the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games, but Vietnam's Under-23 men showed their intent yesterday at the Bishan Stadium, kicking off their Group B campaign with a 6-0 demolition of Brunei.
They did take a while to get going and led 1-0 at the break, courtesy of Le Thanh Binh's opener, but they found their rhythm in the second half and piled on five more goals to complete an emphatic triumph.
Japanese coach Miura opted not to field key players Que Ngoc Hai and Vo Huy Toan, while Mac Hong Quan came on only as a substitute, and he was pleased that some of his lesser lights repaid his faith.
"The first half was not as easy as people might have expected, but my players continued to work hard to make sure we got the result," he said.
"Even when we were leading by three or four goals, they continued to push forward and that was why we finished with such a big victory.
"A big positive for me was also the fact that I was able to give some of the senior players a rest.
"Many of the players who started are coming back from injury and haven't played 90 minutes for some time now, so it was good to see their condition getting better."
Although the Vietnamese dominated proceedings from the opening whistle, it initially looked as though it was going to be one of those days as they spurned a host of gilt-edged chances.
The breakthrough eventually arrived in the 25th minute, when Le found space inside the box and coolly finished past Ahsanuddin Hj Dani.
Two minutes after the break, Tran Phi Son doubled the lead when he headed home a Nguyen Cong Phuong free-kick.
A late Brunei meltdown - mainly fuelled by some poor goalkeeping by Ahsanuddin - saw Hong Quan, Pham Duc Huy, Cong Phuong and Pham Manh Hung net in the final 15 minutes to seal a resounding win for their team.
The disappointment on the face of Brunei coach Stephen Ng was clear for all to see at the final whistle, as he bemoaned his side's inability to maintain their performance levels.
"We competed well in the first half… Unfortunately, conceding early in the second half unsettled the team," the former Singapore goalkeeper said.
"Vietnam's experience really counted after that and our last 20 minutes were not good.
"They capitalised on our lapses and that's something we will have to improve on."
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Ho Ngoc Thang (Vietnam)
- BRUNEI: Ahsanuddin Hj Dani, Azri Zahari (Shafie Effendy 67), Khairil Shahme Suhaimi, Hanif Hamir, Suhaimi Anak Sulau, Nur Ikhmal Damit, Ak Yura Indera Putera, Saiful Ammar Hj Adis (Asnawi Syazni 88), Aminuddin Zakwan Tahir, Azwan Ali, Faiq Jefri Bolkiah (Nur Syazwan Halidi 73).
- VIETNAM: Phi Minh Long, Huynh Tan Tai (Nguyen Thanh Hien 69), Vu Ngoc Thinh, Bui Tien Dung, Pham Manh Hung, Nguyen Huy Hung (Nguyen Cong Phuong 46), Do Duy Manh, Ho Ngoc Thang, Tran Phi Son, Pham Duc Huy, Le Thanh Binh (Mac Hong Quan 64)