Vietnam draw with India in U17 Asian Cup opener

By VNA   June 18, 2023 | 08:56 pm PT
Vietnam draw with India in U17 Asian Cup opener
Vietnam's forward Le Huynh Trieu (R) tries to beat Indian defender Malemngamba Singh during their U17 Asian Cup's Group D match on June 17 in Pathum Thani, Thailand. The match ended 1-1. Photo by VFF
After a draw in the opening match of the AFC U17 Asian Cup, Vietnam’s head coach Hoang Anh Tuan rued his team’s missed opportunities, while his Indian counterpart Bibiano Fernandes was delighted to come from behind and salvage a point.

Both teams wanted to win, as they are considered the two poorer teams in Group D which also consists of powerhouses Japan and Uzbekistan.

Chances for both teams came thick and fast from the start with Indian skipper Korou Singh unlucky to see his long-range effort blocked.

It was the same player thwarted again in the 12th minute, his effort beaten out by the defenders in red.

Vietnam answered immediately with repeated charges from Dang Thanh Binh and Le Dinh Long Vu inside the six-yard box which were blocked by the Indian defense.

The breakthrough came just before the break when 'player-to-watch' Nguyen Cong Phuong’s through ball found Vu who beat Indian defender Ricky Meitei before slotting home to the bottom right corner of the net.

In the additional time of the first half, Le Huynh Trieu almost scored directly from a corner, but his effort hit the woodwork.

India came close to equalizing in the 54th minute with Malenmgamba Thokchom receiving a cross from substitute Thanglalsoun Gangte on the left flank but his shot hit the side netting.

Thokchom, however, came good 10 minutes later as his long range effort sailed past the Vietnamese keeper to settle in the back of the net.

The Indian defenders were kept busy in the minutes that followed as they faced an onslaught of charges from the Golden Star Warriors who were desperate to take their lead back.

Vietnam’s final attempt came in the 89th minute when midfielder Vi Dinh Thuong’s attempt was saved by Indian goalkeeper Sahil.

Coach Fernandes said the two teams were evenly matched and that the game could have gone either way.

"I am quite happy with the team’s performance," he said.

"We were playing really well in the first half but conceded a goal to a small mistake.

"We created several chances but the Vietnamese defence was really good which made it difficult for us to penetrate. Still, 1-1 is not such a bad score and it’s only the first game.

"We did have the scope of substituting some more players, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to replace players who could potentially bring home three points."

His hopes were echoed by Thokchom, who while pleased with his performance, vowed to do better in their upcoming matches.

"Today’s match went well for us, and for the next match we will put in more work for a better result," said Thokchom.

On the other side, coach Tuan said nerves got the better of his team, resulting in them having to share the points.

"The first game of any tournament is always the hardest. I could sense the jitters at the beginning, but I think they were getting better at gaining composure when they saw India losing control after the first 25 minutes," he said.

"India played a good game, but I must concede that my team did not live up to my expectations. However, I think now that the first game is over, they won’t be under so much pressure and will put up a better performance in the next matches."

The result - with Japan and Uzbekistan having also settled for a 1-1 stalemate - leaves the group tantalizingly poised.

Vietnam will meet defending champion Japan on June 20 while India play Uzbekistan.

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