A day before the game, Coach Tuan admitted that his side were the weakest in Group B, which consisted of the DPRK, the UAE and Iraq. In the last six years, Vietnam has not yet won a victory at the tournament, while each of their three opponents has at least grasped the championship title once. The DPRK have even been crowned three times, most recently in 2010, and in the 2014 season, they made it to the finals.
Even prior to departing for Bahrain, the team took a heavy 2-5 defeat at the hands of Australia in the semi-final of the Southeast Asian U19 championship at home.
However, leaving their disadvantages behind, U19 Vietnam played one of their best matches in the continental competition recently, with impressive attacks combined with interspersed long ball. While they are not quite formidable, Duc Chinh and his teammates take enough initiative on the ball.
After two thirds of the first half, they even launched a total of five finishes, while their rivals only launched one. One of them was a powerful shot by Duong Van Hao causing the ball to hit the pole in the 13th minute. In the 34th minute, Minh Di headed off the bare before Duc Chinh missed the goal in the 43rd minute.
After the break, Vietnam continued to play confidently, rendering ineffective their Korean rivals’ attempts to increase the pressure. In the 52nd minute, Coach Tuan decided to let his “card in the sleeve,” Tran Thanh, onto the field.
Nearly twenty minutes later, Thanh proved his value as he passed a precise long ball from the right wing, enough to let Duc Chinh sail the opener with a beautiful header. About a minute later, the gap would have been doubled if Duc Chinh had been more precise in his finish in the 5m50 area, from a low cross by Tran Thanh again.
The goal excited the young Vietnamese players, encouraging them to keep the ball safe in spite of intense counterattacks. From such a counterattack, Doan Van Hau, in the 90+ minutes period, suddenly went off the left side and curved a beautiful left-handed finish into the far side of the goal, beating the DPRK’s keeper, widening the gap to 2-0. This was definitely one of the best goals in the tournament.
However, in the first minute of injury time, a mistake by Vietnam’s defensive line facilitated the DPRK’s Hyon Ju Ryang in launching a siege and scoring, reducing the deficit to 1-2.
In the next match three days later, Vietnam will face U19 UAE. At this tournament, the teams winning tickets to the semifinals will book a berth to FIFA U20 World Cup, taking place next year in the Republic of Korea.