By Vu Duc - The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – Malaysia and Singapore exited from the Thanh Nien International U-21 Tournament 2011 after losing for a second time in the Central Highlands city of Pleiku on Tuesday.
Aspire Academy, who came second at the Eximbank Cup 2011in HCMC last week, beat Malaysia 2-1 while Singapore were defeated 3-0 by Iran in a later game.
The Qatari side dominated from the first whistle and almost got the opener after only five minutes but Jasper Chibueze’s shot was stopped by Malaysian goalie Razali Muhamad.
Muhamad looked unbeatable until the 33rd minute when Papa Serigne Mbaye opened for the Qataris after receiving the ball from Jasper Chibueze.
Malaysia leveled the score in the 51st minute with Bahari Muhammad Akhir’s effort before sub Khalid Jumaan Ali nabbed the winner for Aspire Academy in the 58th minute.
Meanwhile, Behnam Barzay Khodadad opened for Iran 24 minutes into the game with an unstoppable shot from close range, then Amin Jahan Kohan Ghafel netted in the 58th minute before Ali Reza finished it off in the 77th minute.
Aspire Academy and hosts Vietnam, who beat Malaysia 2-0 in the opener on Sunday, have already booked semi-final places. Both sides have three points each but the hosts are top of Group A thanks to goal difference, while Malaysia are knocked out the tournament with two losses.
Singapore also exited from the tournament after two losses, the Lions lost 3-1 to Thailand in the opener on Sunday. Both Thailand and Iran now have three points each but Iran are top of Group B on goal difference.
Group A winners will be decided on Thursday when Vietnam play Aspire Academy at 5:45 p.m., while Thailand also meet Iran on Thursday to decide Group B’s top team at 3:30 p.m..
The fifth international tournament finishes on Tuesday. Vietnam’s team comprises of the best players from the teams which took part in the national 2011 Thanh Nien Newspaper Under-21 football championship
The tournament winners will receive a cash prize of US$12,000, the runner-up US$7,000 and third place US$5,000.