Philippines visited Hanoi knowing that nothing short of a miracle would take them to the final of the AFF Suzuki Cup. However, on the day, they were outclassed both defensively and offensively and were knocked out of the competition. We take a look where the match was won and lost.
Vietnam have forged a reputation, during their remarkable cup run, of being the toughest side defensively. The Golden Dragons had conceded just once before their semi-final second leg match against the Philippines, keeping four clean sheets in the process.
In the first leg of the semifinal, Vietnam went to Bacolod and recorded a 2-1 victory against the Philippines. In doing so, they gained a massive advantage rendered by the two away goals.
However, the beauty of knockout football is in its uncertainty. And so, they knew that anything less than 100 per cent today would land them into trouble. But the Golden Dragons were impeccable on the night and didn’t allow their opponents any space to work with.
Vietnam’s 5-3-2 formation kept the Philippines attackers at bay, while the two wingbacks raced up and down the wings to stretch the play. Furthermore, the three central midfielders provided solid defensive cover and made it even harder for their opponents to go close to the goal.
It was yet another defensive masterclass from Park Hang-Seo’s side, who are slowly turning into a force to be reckoned with.
As much as the result depended upon Vietnam’s defensive solidity, one can only wonder what could’ve been had Philippines been better in attack. The Azkals boasted one of the strongest sides going into the AFF Suzuki Cup and were deemed favourites by many.
However, for much of the competition, the Phil Younghusband-led side looked lacklustre and was often toothless in attack. Indeed, throughout both the legs of the semifinals, Philippines never looked to really pose a threat to Vietnam and ultimately paid the price.
Nevertheless, Philippines did have an ‘ace in the pack’ in Stephan Schock, who had been their best performer so far. Schrock was the one making things tick on the field. However, he didn’t receive adequate support from his teammates and was often left isolated.
Apart from Schrock, nobody in the Philippines side looked to threaten the opposing defence from open play. The Azkals did win a lot of set pieces on the night which could’ve made life harder for their opponents, but their inefficiency from the dead ball situations didn’t help their cause either.
As a result, it was smooth sailing for Vietnam, who made easy work of their opponents and reached the Final.
(Image Credits: Vietnam Football Facebook)