Vietnam Shown Exit As Malaysia Progress

Malaysia booked a place in the final of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 for the first time in 14 years after a 0-0 draw with Vietnam at My Dinh Stadium on Saturday night which saw K. Rajagobal's side secure a 2-0 aggregate win over the defending champions, Vietnam.

Henrique Calisto's team were unable to find a way past the Malaysian defence and their frustrations eventually told when Pham Thanh Luong was sent off for a second bookable offence, leaving his team shorthanded for the final 18 minutes. Thanh Luong was sent for an early bath when he picked up his second yellow card of the game for simulation as referee Kim Sang-woo of Korea Republic decided Malaysian defender S. Kunanlan had not touched the midfielder as he burst into the area before going down. The sending off capped a miserable night for the 40,000 capacity crowd at the My Dinh Stadium, who were hoping to see their team overturn the 2-0 deficit the Malaysians had inflicted upon them in the first leg in Kuala Lumpur's Bukit Jalil Stadium. But, with striker Nguyen Anh Duc starting on the bench, the Vietnamese lacked any physical presence at the pinnacle of their attack, leaving Malaysian central defenders Muslim Ahmad and Fadhli Shas relatively untroubled.

The home side's problems were exasperated further when Phan Van Tai Em was taken off injured early in the game, to be replaced by Le Tan Tai. Barely eight minutes into the game, Nguyen Viet Thang tried his luck with a shot that flew across the face of goal, but there was no one in the centre to apply the finishing touch. Six minutes later Tan Tai tried his luck, only to see Khairul Fahmi do well to keep the ball out, and in the 17th minute, the keeper was in action again, this time saving Nguyen Vu Phong's header.

Malaysia aimed to maintain as much defensive discipline as possible, hoping to hit on the counterattack and midway through the half Norshahrul Idlan tried his luck with a curling effort that Duong Hong Son – back in the team after Bui Tan Truong's error cost Vietnam in the first leg – had the attempt covered. Vietnam controlled possession and much of the first half was played out in Malaysian territory, but the home side continued to struggle to create clear-cut openings, instead relying on efforts from outside the area or from tight angles. With 11 minutes left in the half Nguyen Minh Phuong saw his attempt from long range rise over the bar while Tan Tai's effort in injury time flew just wide of Fahmi's right post.

Vietnam's dominance continued into the second half, but the champions were incapable of converting the few chances they created. Minh Phuong could only find the goalkeeper's arms with his 51st minute free kick while Viet Thang should have done better with a free header 11 minutes later. The lack of potency prompted Calisto to finally introduce Anh Duc in the 64th minute but the forward lacked his usual powerful presence and just eight minutes later Vietnam's hopes were all-but extinguished with Thanh Luong's sending off. As a result, there was little Vietnam could do to deny Malaysia's progress to the final, where they will meet either Indonesia or the Philippines as a brand new champion will be crowned.

Source:  AFF

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