Nguyen Quang Hai contributed a first-half double and assist to his side, who recovered in form following their 0-1 loss to Turkmenistan in the opening match of the tournamentVFF Cup hosts Vietnam defeated Laos 4-0 on Friday night, dominating the AFF Suzuki Cup Group B underdogs in a crucial warm-up friendly.
Both teams were looking for their first win of the tournament after losing their respective opening matches; Vietnam fell 1-0 to Turkmenistan while Laos were trounced 4-1 by a squad of South Korean university players.
Laos were the stronger side for the first 15 minutes, but Vietnam scored first when Nguyen Quang Hai beat the offside trap before delivering a clinical finish past goalkeeper Sengphachan Boun. Quang scored his second goal after the half-hour mark after Pham Thanh Luong drew a penalty kick, and the hosts went into the locker room at half-time with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Laos struggled to mount an effective counter-attack in the second half, often relying on midfielder Visay Phapouvanin to move the ball upfield. The 27-year-old was not able to reduce his team's fortunes, and two Vietnam goals in the 77th and 79th minutes sealed the win for the Red Warriors.
"[The AFF Suzuki Cup] is getting closer, so it's understandable that we test all our players in order to find the best ones," Vietnam coach Phan Thanh Hung said after the match in explaining his unfamiliar starting lineup. "Some players did not play very well but clearly they're some of the best we have.
"They've got spirit and enthusiasm; that's what I need."
Laos coach Kokuchi Kimura praised his squad despite their lackluster effort.
"Vietnam have many good individuals. I don't know if it's [Vietnam's] best lineup but clearly a good team must be based on good players," the former Yokohama F. Marinos manager told reporters. "They're a stronger team compared to Myanmar, who we met in the qualifying round.
"But it's still a long time until the tournament begins. It's a deserved loss for our team as we didn't have much time to prepare and didn't have our best players.
"We'll be different in the AFF Suzuki Cup."