AFF Suzuki Cup 2018: How Park Hang-seo’s men stifled Malaysia to lift the cup

Hosts Vietnam defeated Malaysia 1-0 in the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 final to register victory with a 3-2 aggregate and get their name on the Suzuki Cup title for a second time.

Coming into the match with a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the final, Nguyen Anh Duc’s strike in the 6th minute helped the Golden Dragons to a famous victory. However, it was after the goal that Vietnam did the hard work of keeping the Harimau Malaya at bay.

Coach Park Hang-seo set up the usual five at the back defence which he had used to perfection in the tournament so far. Nguyen Trong Hoang, Do Duy Manh, Tran Dinh Trong, Que Ngoc Hai and Doan Van Hau manned the defence in a 5-4-1 with Nguyen Huy Hung and Do Hung Dung holding the midfield.

Nguyen Quang Hai and Phan Van Duc took up the two wide positions with Anh Duc the sole striker.

On the other hand, Malaysia coach Tan Cheng Hoe fielded his favourite four defenders – Syahmi Safari, Aidil Zafuan, Shahrul Saad and Syazwan Andik. The expectation was that these four would replicate their performances from the group stage and stifle the Vietnam attack.

A clean sheet was what Cheng Hoe would have hoped for, more so as Vietnam already had two away goals in their kitty and just a goal from Golden Dragons would’ve killed the match for Malaysia – and that is exactly what happened. In the sixth minute itself, after a brilliant bit of work from Quang Hai on the left flank, veteran striker Anh Duc opened the scoring.

Malaysia did try their best to level the scores on the night with Mohamadou Sumareh coming close five minutes later. Syahmi Safari’s shot was then saved by Van Lam at the stroke of half-time but that was the closest Malaysia could get to the Vietnam goal.

The Golden Dragons’ wingbacks did not allow the Malaysian wingers to express themselves and the midfield duo of Huy Hung and Hung Dung cut off all the passing channels from the midfield. Both Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Zaquan Adha were frustrated up front because of the lack of delivery from their midfielders.

That Akram Mahinan and Syamer Kutty Abba had one of their worse matches in the tournament only added to the Harimau Malaya’s woes. Overall, a defensive masterclass from Park Hang-seo’s men was the biggest factor behind their impressive victory at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi.

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