Malaysia U-23 - Vietnam U-23 Preview: Mouthwatering final group match to decide Group A semi-finalists

The stage is set for both teams to battle it out for the semi final berths in what should be a tightly contested

Reuben - Fadhli - Shahrul - Azmi

Thamil - Nazmi - Nasir - Ashri


Sam - Manh - Thành - Hùng
Quyet - Nguyen
- Minh Thuan - Thang
Manh Dung

Thuan Ha
After the draw between Malaysia and Singapore and Vietnam's thumping of Laos on Sunday, Group A saw the Lions qualifying through to the semi finals, and the final qualification spot to be decided between second-placed Malaysia and third placed Vietnam, when they face each other Tuesday in their final match in the group. Malaysia are currently on seven points, whereas Vietnam are on six, which means Malaysia only need a draw to finish top of the group, while Vietnam need to beat them to advance to the knockout stage of the competition.
Despite the point advantage that Malaysia have over their Tuesday opponents, they are suffering from defensive lapses and the inability of their strikers to convert their chances. This is most telling in their match against Singapore, whereby despite their superior possession and multiple chances, they fell behind through a set piece, and would have lost if not for striker Rozaimi's wonderful freekick in the dying minutes. Second-string striker Hazwan Bakri, despite scoring a hat-trick against Laos on Friday, misfired against Singapore, and is unlikely to produce any goal against Vietnam, if he starts Tuesday's match. Their defence are also prone to lapses that can be taken advantage of by more clinical teams, despite goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi's commendable goalkeeping.

Vietnam however, despite their position in third, are less goal shy, having scored 12 in their previous three matches, and not reliant on just one or two players to produce the goals. Four different players have scored two goals each, and that means the Tigers' defenders will have a tough time focusing on any particular player. They are also very strong defensively, having conceded only one goal, and even then it was against one of the top teams in their group; Singapore. Their scoring and defensive records are the best in the tournament so far, and should they manage to overcome the Malaysians and advance to the semi-finals, they will be a strong bet for this edition's gold medal.

Follow Zulhilmi Zainal on