Australia laboured past a spirited Vietnam side 6-5 to top Group B and avoid a premature clash with hot favourites Thailand in the semi-finals of the AFF Futsal Championships here.
Today’s match however turned out to be a bruising affair as three players – two Aussies including their skipper and the Vietnamese keeper – were red carded.
The pressure to win today’s group was immense and that may have affected the players.
As the game progressed, the players started becoming more robust and in the 12th minute, in his haste to clear the ball, Vietnam keeper Ngo Dinh Thuan, raced out, slammed into Jarrod Basger and was immediately sent-off.
Australia quickly took advantage and scored through Wade Gionevali in the 13th minute. Just shortly after, Australia’s Glen Kelshaw was given the marching orders.
Vietnam took their chances well with Le Quc Nam scoring in the 14th minute. But Australia soon regained the lead when Giovenali put them ahead again in the 15th minute.
Jarrod made it 3-1 in the 16th but Nguyen Minh Tri sent the crowd to their feet with his shot in the 17th.
But before the Vietnamese could even think of equalising, the Aussies replied with another superb strike from Giovenali in the 18th minute.
It was a thriller of a game, especially in the second half, as Vietnam stepped up the pace in their hunt for the goals and managed to pick up three more through Tran Van Vu (22nd), Ngo Ngoc Son (27th) and Duong Anh Thung (28th). Australia also had as many goals after the break with Giovenali (18th, 23rd) and Dean Lockhart hitting the mark.
Vietnam, due to their superior goal difference, only needed to draw today to top the group. They had two penalties late in the game converting two penalties late in the game and claiming the top spot here.
As the players moved to the centre of the court for the ceremonial finish to shake hands with each other and match officials, Australian skipper Geovenali’s apparently uttered some vulgarities and was given the sacked.
In an earlier Group B match this morning, Myanmar defeated Laos 12-4 to finish third behind Vietnam and Australia.
Group B: Myanmar bt Laos 12-4, Australia bt Vietnam 6-5
Group A: Singapore vs Malaysia (4.30pm), Thailand vs Timor Leste (7pm)
Oct 14 (Semi-finals)
Thailand vs Vietnam
Australia vs Malaysia
Oct 16: Final
Note: In case of same points, the head-to-head battle between the two teams will be used
Team in BOLD qualify for the semi-finals