Malaysia and Vietnam set the early pace in Group B of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 after both teams picked up the full points on the first matchday of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 here at the Bishan Stadium.
Malaysia sidestepped Cambodia 3-1 while Vietnam overcame Laos 2-0.
After some hard pressing at the start, Cambodia conceded a penalty in the 21st minute when defender Sieng Chanthea was faulted for a foul on Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid.
Striker Muhammad Safawi Rashid duly converted from the spot to give the Malaysians the lead.
With the score at 1-0 well into the second half, a superb run from Akhyar right at the hour mark saw him turning a defender before unleashing a shot past Cambodian custodian Keo Soksela for the second Malaysian goal.
As M. Kogileswaran then made a fine finish for Malaysia’s third in the 79th minute, Cambodia managed to pull a goal back when captain Souey Vial fired in a penalty with a minute left on the clock.
“Yes we did not have much of a preparation for this AFF Suzuki Cup but I am pleased with the performance of the players today,” said Malaysian head coach Tan Cheng Hoe.
“We struggled somewhat with getting the momentum and also how we want to play the game but I think that we can only get better from here and we will improve.”
Added Cambodian head coach Ryu Hirose: “If you only look at the result, of course, it is not a good game. But the content of the match was not very bad as we managed to keep possession and moved the ball around.”
“We will analyse the game further and we will do better in the next match.”
In the meantime, Vietnam showed quality as the defending champions to score a goal in each half despite being up against a defensive-minded Laotian side.
Coming off the back of a tough FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, Vietnam just packed too much firepower against Laos, who were determined to keep the score low.
After Luong Xuan Truong narrowly missed the target early in the game, Vietnam finally made it count in the 26th minute when Nguyen Cong Phuong smashed in the playback from Nguyen Phong Hong Duy.
Laos tried hard to push forward with Billy Ketkeophomphone as the target man but with Phan Van Duc manning the midfield, it was always going to be hard going.
And in the 55th minute, it was Van Duc who grabbed Vietnam’s second goal when he made good on the cross from Ho Tan Tai.
Laos then created their best chance in the 73rd minute off a fine run from Bouphachan Bounkong but Billy’s effort went straight to the keeper instead.
A minute later, Vietnam should have nailed their third goal of the game but Vu Van Thanh failed to score from the spot when his attempt was blocked by Laos custodian Keo Oudone Souvannasangso.
“I am satisfied with the result considering that we had to make changes to the team after some players got injured in the World Cup qualifiers,” said Vietnam head coach Park Hang-seo.
“I will analyse the game in these few days to decide on how we will approach the next match.”
Added Laos head coach V. Selvaraj: “I believe the scoreline is respectable. Some players joined the team from abroad, so we need to make some adjustments.
“We could have scored towards the end of the game but we will improve in the next match.”
AFF SUZUKI CUP 2020
GROUP B (All matches at the Bishan Stadium)
RESULTS – 6 December 2021
Cambodia 1-3 Malaysia
Laos 0-2 Vietnam
9 December 2021
1730: Malaysia vs Laos
2030: Indonesia vs Cambodia