HCMC - The Vietnamese national squad defeated Kuwait U23 3-0 in the opener of the 1,000th Thang Long-Hanoi Cup Football Cup 2010 at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on Monday while North Korea beat Australia U23 1-0 in the earlier game.
By Vu Duc - The Saigon Times Daily
Kuwait goalie F.Marzouq challenges the ball with Vietnamese players during their 1000th Thang Long-Hanoi Footbal cup match at Hanoi's My Dinh National Stadium on Tuesday - Photo: TTXVN HCMC - The Vietnamese national squad defeated Kuwait U23 3-0 in the opener of the 1,000th Thang Long-Hanoi Cup Football Cup 2010 at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on Monday while North Korea beat Australia U23 1-0 in the earlier game.
The North Korean team was said to be strong because they would send their best players including 14 players who attended the World Cup 2010 in South Africa in June, and the Australian and Kuwait teams were also sending their strongest players.
However, the North Korean side had sent in the 23-member squad with only six who attended the World Cup 2010. The Kuwait U23’s coach Al Shemmari said his team would include 12 players who played in the Gulf Cup final against the United Arabs of Emirates last month.
The Vietnamese team participated in the round-robin tournament with their strongest squad in hopes of keeping the cup at home. However, Vietnam faced some disadvantage when star striker Le Cong Vinh and former star striker Pham Van Quyen skipped the tournament because of injury.
Under heavy pressure from local fans, hosts Vietnam, coached by Henrique Calisto, dominated the game from the beginning and they placed more pressure on their opponents. Despite good ball possession, Vietnamese forwarders failed to grasp any scoring chances.
The Vietnamese had to wait until the 44th minute when striker Nguyen Viet Thang opened the score with a penalty kick. A Kuwait defender made a mistake as he handballed to give Vietnam a penalty kick and Thang made no mistakes, scoring first goal for his team.
After the break, the home side continuously organized more attacks on Kuwait defending lines and captain Nguyen Minh Phuong doubled his team’s advantage in the 66th minute with a free kick outside penalty area.
The visitors bounced back after the second goal as they put more pressure on their opponents aiming to narrow the scoring gap but all their scoring chances were denied by goalie Nguyen Hong Son.
Substitute Nguyen Trong Hoang, who replaced Nguyen Quang Hai in the 79th minute, finalized the game at 3-0 in the 84th minute to keep Vietnam’s hopes of winning the cup.
In the earlier opening game, the North Korean showed why they were favorites. Park Song Chol scored the only goal for his team in the 16th minute despite North Korea dominated the game from the beginning.
Kuwait U23 will play North Korea at 5:00 p.m. and Australia U23 take on Vietnam at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
Kuwait U23, North Korea and Australia U23 together with the Vietnamese national squad are competing at the 1,000th Thang Long-Hanoi Football Cup.
The four teams are playing in a round-robin tournament with the team that gets the most points being declared the championship. The tournament is taking place from Monday to Friday at My Dinh National Stadium in the capital.
The winners will receive a cash prize of US$20,000, the runners-up US$10,000, and the third team US$5,000.
The tournament is seen as a warm-up for the Vietnamese team to prepare for the Southeast Asian championship - AFF Suzuki Cup 2010, co-hosted by Indonesia and Vietnam from December 1 to 29, where they are in Group B with Singapore, Myanmar and the runner-up team in the qualifying round.