Vissai Ninh Binh striker Van Quyen (R) makes a double in a 4-2 victory over India's Churchill Brothers at an AFC Cup match in Vietnam's northern province of Ninh Binh May 13. PHOTO: MINH TU
Vissai Ninh Binh defeated India’s Churchill Brothers 4-2 Tuesday (May 13) to earn a quarterfinal slot at the 2014 Asian Football Council (AFC) Cup despite being short several players currently under investigation for illegal betting.
Thousands of spectators came out for the match at Ninh Binh Stadium, mostly because of the scandal, and a retirement announcement from its famous striker Van Quyen, which he withdrew after the match.
Vissai Ninh Binh hosted the Indian club with only 16 players, including substitutes.
Van Quyen shot every corner kick in the match, living up to Coach Nguyen Van Sy's pre-match promise that the striker would be the key player.
During the first minutes, Vissai Ninh Binh attacked and fired dangerous shots on Churchill Brothers’ goal.
However, it was the Indian club who scored the first goal in match's 19th minute.
Three minutes later, Vissai Ninh Binh leveled the scores after Le Van Thang took a long pass from the middle field.
In the 27th minute, Vissai Ninh Binh scored one more goal thanks to its only foreign player Sim Woon Sub. The South Korean was promptly yellow carded for stripping off his jersey to celebrate the point.
In the second half, Vissai Ninh Binh continued to attack with heated support from more than 5,000 fans.
Van Quyen scored a goal after bamboozling Churchill Brothers’ defenders to widen the distance to 3-1.
Churchill Brothers came back with a penalty kick, but Van Quyen scored again during a free kick bringing the final match score to 4-2.
After the match, coach Sy said he would recruit more players from the club’s U-19 team.
At a press conference after the match, Van Quyen said he would continue to play for the club.
“I had said that I would retire if we lose the match. But Vissai Ninh Binh won and I will be ready if the club still needs me,” he said.
Coach Sy, who said he was surprised by the victory, also said Van Quyen would remain one of the club's key players.
“I am very pleased about Van Quyen, not only because he scored a double but because of the enthusiastic way he played…. This was a match that made me most proud of him.”
Despite all the good feelings about the victory, the nine other Vissai Ninh Binh players are being investigated for betting on an earlier match with Malaysia’s Kelantan on March 18, which they won 3-2.
Among them, defender Tran Manh Dung and goalkeeper Nguyen Manh Dung were arrested on April 29.
Their alleged bookie, Dao Duc Loi, was arrested on May 13.
The players have handed their winnings, totaling VND800 million (US$37,950), to the police.
On April 16, investigators summoned Van Quyen for questioning related to the case.
In 2007, Van Quyen and five former national players received suspended sentences and another was jailed for fixing a match to ensure Vietnam beat Myanmar by no more than a single goal at the Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines in 2005.
Le Quoc Vuong, a midfielder for the national U-23 team, was jailed for six years for “organizing gambling” and “gambling.”
Six other players – including Van Quyen – were given suspended sentences of two years to 30 months for “organizing gambling.”
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