The crucial match: Philippines vs Vietnam

Icko de Guzman
The Philippines must win against Vietnam, ranked number one in Southeast Asia, to boost their chances of advancing to the semi-finals of the 2012 Suzuki Cup

OUT OF TIME. The Azkals scored late against Thailand but ended up with no time left to equalize. Paul Mulders (R) scored the only goal for the Philippines. Photo by Anton Sheker / www.goal.ph

BANGKOK, Thailand – There will be everything to fight for as the Philippines take on Vietnam Tuesday night, November 27, at the Rajamangala Stadium in what is seen as a return match for both sides after the Philippines defeated Vietnam 2-0 in 2010 in an improbable upset that saw the Philippines advancing to the semi-finals that year.

Goals from Chris Greatwich and Phil Younghusband gave the Philippines the win and the match was considered as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition.

This time around, it will be a different match altogether with a much improved squad. Both teams are set to compete for glory once again.

“It was our second game in 2010, it’s the second game now and we hope we get the same result,” said striker Phil Younghusband, who scored the clincher against Vietnam two years ago.

The striker also sees the 2010 game as their inspiration heading into the match.

Younghusband, who was substituted at half-time against Thailand, had an apparent eye wound from the first half, but expects that it should be okay for the game.

Challenges

Concerns grow for the Philippines however as head coach Michael Weiss is suspended from the Vietnam match, after being sent off against Thailand for appearing to throw a ball on a Thai player who was on the ground.

Another concern is striker Le Cong Vinh, who missed out on the 2010 match due to injury. Vinh is Vietnam’s top scorer with 31 goals in his name, and was also the catalyst in their country’s victorious 2008 Suzuki Cup campaign when he scored the winner against Thailand, handing them their first AFF title.

Both sides have already met a total of six times. Vietnam has won four games, the teams drew once, and of course, the Philippines’ 2010 win.

Ranked number one in Southeast Asia, Vietnam looks to improve their 2010 semi-final finish as they, along with hosts Thailand, are considered as favorites to advance to the semis.

Vietnam, nicknamed as “The Red Warriors,” is currently tied with Myanmar with a point each after both sides were only able to muster a 1-1 draw last Saturday, November 24 with Le Tan Tai scoring for Vietnam via a header. Myanmar scored off a penalty.

Thailand is on top of the group standings with 3 points after their 2-1 win against the Azkals also on Saturday, while the Philippines sits on the bottom with zero points.

The Philippines must win their next two games against Vietnam and Myanamr to be assured a spot in the semi-finals. – Rappler.com

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