HANOI – The Philippines settled for second place in the final game of the AFF Suzuki Cup group stages after a 1-3 loss against Vietnam at the My Dinh Stadium Friday night.
The loss saw Vietnam win Group A with seven points — the Philippines are just a point behind. The second place finish also meant that the Philippines set a semifinal match against the winner of the other group.
Coach Thomas Dooley hopes that his side will bounce back in the semifinals after the loss. “Now that we lost, we have to be hungry again,” he said.
Ngo Hoang Thinh scored the first goal for Vietnam. Given enough space, the Vietnamese midfielder sent a shot towards the far post that beat Azkals stopper Patrick Deyto.
The Azkals tried to press for an equalizer in the first half, but the host’s defense proved to be a tough task.
Vietnam doubled their lead six minutes into the second half as Vi Minh Tuan beat Daisuke Sato on the left flank and sent the ball past a rooted Patrick Deyto.
The hosts made it three goals to none in the 58th minute. Pham Thanh Luong sent a shot to the top corner after another Vietnamese counter-attack.
Paul Mulders, who came on as a half-time substitute for Mark Hartmann, scored the only goal for the Azkals. The midfielder delivered a header from a Jerry Lucena cross in the right flank to make it 1-3 in the 60th minute.
“I wasn’t surprised that Vietnam is playing like this because they started well in the first game,” said Dooley on the hosts’ performance. “The first goal killed our strategy.”
The Azkals will return to Manila Saturday to prepare for their AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal round. The first leg will be held onDecember 6.