Thai newspaper, fans taunt Vietnam defender

By Trung Thu   January 15, 2023 | 07:15 pm PT
Thai newspaper, fans taunt Vietnam defender
Que Ngoc Hai (red jersey, number 3) in an altercation with Theerathon Bunmathan in the first leg of AFF Cup final between Vietnam and Thailand in Hanoi on January 13, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong
Leading Thai newspaper Siam Sports has laid into Vietnam's center-back Que Ngoc Hai before the second leg of the 2022 AFF Cup final between Thailand and Vietnam.

In the first leg in Hanoi on Friday, he was involved in a clash with Thai captain Theerathon Bunmathan and got a yellow card.

Tension occurred in the 40th minute as two teams argued over a foul by Vietnam's Ho Tan Tai. Que Ngoc Hai was explaining to the referee when he was surrounded by Thailand players.

Hai pushed Bunmathan away and the latter tried to strangle him, before other players pushed them apart.

Many Thai fans have gone to Hai's Instagram account and left offensive comments about the incident.

"This was not the first time he angered a Thai player," Siam Sports wrote.

"In the past Que Ngoc Hai has been involved in many similar situations."

It also listed the times when Hai behaved boorishly. After successfully taking a penalty in the 2019 King's Cup final against Curacao, he put a finger on his lips to tell the Thai fans to remain silent after being booed by them.

In the semifinals of the 2020 AFF Cup, he kicked the ball in the face of Supachok Sarachat when the Thai striker was down, leading to an altercation with coach Mano Polking on the touchline. The Thai head coach called it an unsportsmanlike act.

It was thought to be payback for Bunmathan fouling Hai and getting away with it.

After the tournament Ngoc Hai was stripped of the Vietnam captaincy and the armband was transferred to Do Hung Dung.

Siam Sports even harked back to a 2015 incident when Hai made a dangerous tackle on Tran Anh Khoa in Vietnam's domestic V. League, forcing him to retire early from the sport.

"He intentionally hurt his opponent in an ugly way," it wrote.

Hai was banned from football for six months and had to cover Khoa's medical costs of VND700 million.

But the newspaper also praised Hai as a talented and charismatic player who competes wholeheartedly.

"Que Ngoc Hai has been the heart of the Vietnamese squad under Coach Park Hang-seo since the early days."

Hai and his teammates take on Thailand in the second leg at 7:30 p.m. on Monday. Vietnam must win outright or draw with a 3-3 score or more to win the AFF Cup after drawing 2-2 at home in the first leg.

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