Vietnam continues to be a bogey team for Malaysia in recent times as they prolong their unbeaten run against Harimau Malaysia to five matches after a 1-0 win at My Dinh Stadium on Thursday in the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualification match in Group G.
Nguyen Quang Hai's 40th minute winner proved to be the difference between the two teams in a closely fought contest. Tan Cheng Hoe saw his team dominating the play but were unable to create concrete chances to find their way back into the match. The Malaysian head coach did not attend the post-match press conference because he wasn't feeling well and Balachandran step in to explain what went on.
"First of all, I congratulate Vietnam on winning the match. Our tactics was to take the chance when we get them but we played against a strong team. We played very well and had chances in the first half but we score. Our mistake in the defence (lead to them scoring) with the ball over the backline.
"We analysed their game and we trained to that effect. They didn't have many chances to score and in the second half we contained them very well. We are still in the early stages of the competition. We came here wanting to win or at least get a draw but unfortunately we lost. But we have another two home matches next months and we will try to take full advantage of that," said Bala in the post-match press conference.
The Vietnam backline marshalled by Que Ngoc Hai, Bu Tien Dung and Do Duy Manh proved to be a tough nut to crack with Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Safawi Rasid, Mohamadou Sumareh and Syafiq Ahmad all firing blanks. The absence of Nor Azam Azih in the Malaysia line-up saw very little creativity in the attacking third by the away side.
The defeat leaves Malaysia in a precarious position after a positive start to the qualifying campaign. Now fourth behind United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Vietnam; there will be added pressure in next month's double home game against Thailand and Indonesia if Malaysia still harbour hopes of doing well in the qualifiers.
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