August 28, 2023
HANOI – RAYONG The Việt Nam national under-23 team have won the 2023 AFF U23 Championship, after a 6-5 penalty shootout victory.
After a goalless 120 minutes, the match had to be decided on penalties, with keeper Quan Văn Chuẩn proving to be the hero saving a penalty from Ernando Ari.
The match started with Indonesia’s young starlets on the front foot. Việt Nam had to deal with enormous pressure and forced to play defensively.
In the 26th minute, Rifky Setiawan’s free kick from 20 metres could have opened the score for Shin Tae-yong’s men, had it not been for Chuẩn’s acrobatics.
Five minutes later, Việt Nam replied with a great opportunity for Nguyễn Minh Quang on the counter. Quang was through on goal, but his shot hit the outside of the post. As he went for the rebound, Quang was brought down by Alfeandra Dewangga inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
Nguyễn Quốc Việt, a scorer in the semifinal win over Malaysia, stepped up, but his penalty was saved by Ernando.
After Quốc Việt’s miss, Indonesia had even more mental advantages on their side, and took full control of the game. This momentum carried on into the second half, as the men in red created more opportunities than Hoàng Anh Tuấn’ players.
The most dangerous of which came in the 77th minute, when Sananta Ramadhan’s free kick rattled not only the crossbar, but the hearts of Vietnamese fans everywhere.
The game was also notably plagued with vicious fouls and tackles from both sides, but Việt Nam, having learned their lessons in the group stage match against Philippines, kept their cool and stayed strong in defence for the rest of the match.
In extra time, as fatigue kicked in, both teams played more carefully and the match ended goalless after 120 minutes.
Five players from both sides confidently took their spot kicks, until keeper Ernando stepped up to take the sixth penalty.
Having saved a penalty earlier in the first half, Ernando could have been the hero for Indonesia, but fate chose Văn Chuẩn, as the Hà Nội FC goalkeeper pushed away Ernando’s shot, in an ironically similar fashion to Ernando’s earlier save against Quốc Việt.
18-year-old Thái Bá Đạt, one of Việt Nam’s rising stars, then successfully took the decisive kick that gave Việt Nam victory and the title.
The win marked Việt Nam’s successful title defense, after success at the 2022 AFF U23 Championship in Cambodia.
Việt Nam also got their sweet revenge for their SEA Games 32 semifinals loss in May at the hands of Indonesia.
For Hoàng Anh Tuấn, the victory marked his first international title, a decisive milestone for a renowned coach who have taken the Việt Nam U20s to the U20 World Cup in 2017.
“A very tense match, but I am happy,” said Tuấn in the post-match press conference, “I am happy not because we won, but because we were the youngest team in the tournament.”
After the tournament, some of the players will be chosen to join with Philippe Troussier’s Việt Nam Under-23 team, who are preparing for the AFC U23 Asian Cup qualifiers in September. VNS