Nhat Nam shines as Vietnam beats Malaysia at U21 int'l opener

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The Under-21 International Football Tournament opened in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai on Sunday in cool weather, promising success for the fifth edition of the annual invitational event.

After a brief solemn opening ceremony, more than 10,000 spectators at Pleiku Stadium experienced exciting moments before the hosts took a 2-0 win from late goals by Nhat Nam and Minh Tuan.

The cool weather made it ideal for the hosts Vietnamese U21s and the visitors from Malaysia to start the game in high spirits, playing fast football.

The visitors' attacks heavily depended on long passes from their defenders to their strikers and it looked like the Vietnamese players had expected it.

That was why the Vietnamese players looked cautious in defense and proactive in their attacks, and they had better control over the match in the first half.

After the break, the home team played with even more confidence and had lots of scoring chances but failed to convert one into a goal.

The Vietnamese players put more pressure on the visitors as the match was drawing to an end and eventually had an opener three minutes from full time when midfielder Nhat Nam scored from a free kick after curling the ball into Malaysia's net at the high corner.

Nam's opener broke the deadlock, making the hosts play better before striker Ha Minh Tuan doubled the scored in the first minute of the stoppage time.

Nhat Nam won the "first scorer at the tournament" and "best player of the match" prizes for his excellent performance.

Speaking after the match, host team coach Nguyen Quoc Tuan said, "I am very pleased with my players' high spirits but it was a pity they wasted a lot of chances."

When asked, Malaysian team coach Ibrahim Ismail said, "I am pleased with my players' performance but my team clashed with a stronger team and all we can do is congratulate them on their win."

Vietnam is now top of Group A and won't play the next group stage match against Qatar's football academy Aspire till Thursday September 29 while Malaysia will next clash with young players from Aspire on Tuesday.

In Group B, Thailand's U21s cruised past Singaporean rivals 3-1 in their first match at the Thanh Nien-sponsored tournament that will close on October 4.

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