U19 hosts takes dirty win over Singapore's U21s

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Vietnam's under-19 team came from behind to beat Singapore's under-21 squad 2-1 at the fourth International U21 Football Tournament at HCMC's Thong Nhat Stadium on Monday.

Questions remain about the legitimacy of the win.

The young Vietnamese players' performance left a pretty bad impression on the hometown fans in general and on the Singaporean visitors in particular.

The game began with an unimaginable blunder.

The Son, an unmarked defender, passed the ball back to goalkeeper Anh Duc who was standing a bit far from the goal. The ball sailed past Duc and into the back of the net.

Though Son was replaced immediately after the incident but the sudden goal placed the team in a dire mood.

At times, it looked like the Vietnamese didn't know how to get the ball into the Singaporean penalty zone.

With a bit of luck, however, the Vietnamese boys claimed an equalizer five minutes from the final whistle. Quoc Phuong fired a shot that bested Singapore's goalkeeper.

The point surprised the Singaporean players, causing them to lose concentration and allowing the Vietnamese players to take a second goal in the final minutes after a mix-up in Singapore's penalty area.

The confused coup allowed the Vietnamese fans to heave a sigh.

Yet it was a sigh without relief. The gameplay turned just plain ugly, at times. Several deliberate fouls by the home players caused the fans to be more worried than happy about the final 2-1 victory. 

 "Today, I am pleased with my players' fast performance," said Vietnam's team coach Trieu Quang Ha. "Yet my players were not psychologically well, especially after conceding the first goal because of an own goal.They are still very young, and that was why they couldn't keep calm and that led to their fouls. This is what they need to improve in the future."

Singapore's U21 team coach Pathmanathan S/O Thambiayah struck a rather disappointed note.

"It was a hard game for my players," he told reporters after the match. "I don't want to comment on the referees' work in this game. The result was not as good as we expected but that is football. One problem is that several of my players suffered serious injuries.

"My players did their best today, though. I want to congratulate the Vietnamese U19 team on the win."

In other action, the Vietnamese team's coaching staff, manager and players held a post-game meeting to discuss their performance.

Following the meeting, Team Manager Truong Hai Tung publicly apologized to the spectators and TV viewers for the young team's failure to exhibit proper restraint. He admitted that his players had made deliberate fouls after the disheartening first goal.

The team's managerial staff and the players promised to improve the situation in the coming games. Tung also apologized to the visiting Singaporean U21 team for the incidents in the game.

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