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|Tough break: Vietnamese defender Pham Xuan Manh (in red) vies for the ball with a South Korean player in the match between Việt Nam and South Korea in the semi-final of the Asian Games in Indonesia yesterday. Vietnam lost to South Korea 1-3. - VNA/VNS Photo|
Park’s charges lost to his native South Korea 1-3 at the Pakan Sari Stadium in Indonesia yesterday.
“I felt that my players were afraid of their rival excessively in the early minutes, causing the early loss and then the next losses. However, I am proud of them and want to thank them for their dedication in the game today,” said Park.
“The upcoming bronze medal is waiting for us and now we have to prepare for it in terms of psychology and physical strength. Today, my players were too tense so in the break, I told them to be more confident,” he continued.
“We failed and of course, I am disappointed with this result but I believe that my players will grow up more after games like this,” Park added.
Substitute Tran Minh Vuong scored the only goal for Vietnam in the 70th minute.
“We had a difficult match with a strong rival. We made every effort but many of us didn’t have the best strength,” said Vuong after the match.
Việt Nam’s coach sent out a changed line-up from Monday’s extra-time victory over Syria, with midfielders Luong Xuan Truong, Phan Van Duc and striker Nguyen Anh Duc starting on Wednesday after serving as substitutes on Monday. After taking the field on Monday, defender Doan Van Hau did not play today.
Vietnam couldn’t get into the game early and allowed Lee Seung-woo to open the scoring via his left boot just seven minutes into the game.
Things went to bad for worse for the Vietnamese, with Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung Min threading the ball through to Hwang Ui-jo to slot past Vietnam’s goalie Bui Tien Dung to double the score in the 27th minute. It is Hwang’s ninth goal of the Asian Games.
Coach Park switched things up soon after, bringing on midfielder Nguyen Van Quyet to replace defender Pham Duc Huy. The substitution was almost a stroke of genius, but Quyet missed Vietnam’s best chance in the 40th minute of the first half.
Vietnam started the second half stronger, but couldn’t contain the rampant South Koreans, who capitalised on poor Vietnamese defending as Lee scored his second in the 55th minute to stretch the lead to 3-0.
To their credit, Vietnam refused to give up and began to assert themselves after the third goal, dominating possession and pinning their opponents back.
Their efforts were rewarded in the 70th minute, as substitute Vuong stepped up to curl a superb free-kick over the wall and past South Korean goalkeeper Song Bum-keun, sparking wild celebrations back home in Vietnam.
Six minutes later, missed a headed chance, and was promptly replaced by striker Nguyen Cong Phuong.
With normal time nearly over, Pham Xuan Manh should have scored Vietnam’s second from a corner, but he fluffed his lines and could not beat Song.
The full-time whistle sounded shortly afterward, ending the plucky Vietnamese team’s historic run.
After the match, coach Park also sent his congratulations toSouth Korea team and his compatriot coach, Kim Hak-beom.
Coach Kim said: “I am very sorry about Park’s team’s result. In this game, my footballers proved their standard and quality. I am satisfied with this achievement. We controlled the match and took chances well.”
Việt Nam will next meet United Arab Emirates who lost 0-1 to Japan in the other semi-final match played later yesterday in the bronze-medal match on Saturday.