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Vietnam captain says pressured by Malaysia players to miss penalty

By Lam Thoa, Xuan Binh   June 11, 2021 | 07:27 pm PT
Vietnam captain says pressured by Malaysia players to miss penalty
Malaysia's forward Guilherme de Paula Lucrecio approaches Vietnam's captain Que Ngoc Hai (R) as he's about to take a penalty shot at the World Cup qualifier on June 11, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa.
When Que Ngoc Hai stepped up to take the penalty at the 2022 World Cup qualifier on Friday, many Malaysian players approached the Vietnam's captain to play mind games.

"As I was about to take the penalty, many Malaysian players tried to put pressure on me. They spoke in English... They told me that I would definitely miss it," said center-back Hai.

"But a player with spirit and courage should be able to overcome it. I am used to this. I told myself to ignore it and focus on the penalty to score and help us win."

Forward Nguyen Tien Linh opened the scoring for Vietnam in the first half of their World Cup qualifier against Malaysia, but forward Guilherme de Paula Lucrecio equalized for Malaysia in the 72nd minute.

Nguyen Van Toan won a penalty for Vietnam 10 minutes later after being fouled in the box by Brendan Gan, and captain Que Ngoc Hai stepped up to take it. He did not go for his usual skipped penalty run-up, instead opted for the far lower corner of the net.

Que Ngoc Hai scores for Vietnam from the penalty spot after Nguyen Van Toan was fouled.

Hai's penalty sealed the crucial victory for Vietnam and ended Malaysia's World Cup hopes. Malaysian media were not happy about the result as well as referee Ryuji Sato’s decision to award Vietnam a penalty, calling the latter "controversial."

"The penalty sparked controversy among Malaysian players, because it seemed forward Nguyen Van Toan had dived," wrote Sinar Harian.

According to Indonesia's, "the substituted Van Toan was presumably fouled by Brendan Gan, but the replay showed there was no contact."

Hai was very happy about scoring the winning goal, and understood the importance of this victory.

"It is hard to describe how happy I am. The match was very tough as Vietnam and Malaysia were familiar opponents.

"In the hardest moments, the team have shown solidarity and fighting spirit. Vietnam is battling hard against the Covid-19 pandemic, and coach Park said if we played well, we could be a source of encouragement for the entire nation. We have achieved that in the last two matches. I hope this win serves as a dose of vaccine for Vietnam. I am immensely proud."

Vietnam are on top of group G with 17 points, followed by the UAE with two points less. A draw against this opponent on June 15 should be enough for Vietnam to advance to the final qualifier of the 2022 World Cup for the first time.

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