Vietnam fought to a disappointing 1-1 draw with Myanmar in the opening match of Group A at the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup in Thailand on Saturday.
The Vietnamese footballers could have won the match if it had not been for poor performances from some key players.
Vietnam took the lead after 35 minutes when midfielder Tan Tai headed a Thanh Luong corner kick past Myanmar's goalkeeper Thiaha Si Thu.
But that was the best the Vietnamese footballers could do. Other players underperformed. Midfielder Tuan Anh, for example, wasted two clear chances in the second half when he was unmarked. His first shot went wide, while his second shot found the bar.
Sweeper Pham Nguyen Sa could not play because he was running a temperature and ubstitute Thanh Hung was not so good as a defensive midfielder, leaving too much pressure on the defenders. Striker Cong Vinh did not have a good day and central fullback Minh Duc's bad display was a big concern.
Minh Duc made several terrible mistakes and one of them got him a yellow card and a penalty for Myanmar when he tackled striker Kyi Lin, who made no mistake from the spot to score the leveler . Vietnam would have suffered a defeat if Myanmar had another striker like Kyi lin.
The draw is not such a bad result for Vietnam but it is worrying because the next two teams, hosts Thailand and the Philippines, are much stronger opponents.
Speaking at a press conference after the match, the Manager of Myanmar football team Tin Myint Aung said, "We are very happy with this draw. Our players played very well in the match. Obviously, Vietnam has many good players and Vietnam is considered stronger than us, so one point is a success for us."
Vietnam's assistant coach Hoang Anh Tuan said, "It's a pity we had a draw in the opener. In my opinion, Minh Duc shouldn't have tackled Kyi Lin like that. It shows his inexperience. However, there is always a player who underperforms in a match. It was a pity Duc was the case in this match. The Vietnamese players will try to do well in the next two matches to advance to the semifinals."
Vietnam's coach Phan Thanh Hung was not at the press conference but he met Vietnamese reporters and said, "What a pity. We could have won three points. The draw was due to poor performances by the defenders."
Hung admitted the road to the semifinals is now very difficult for Vietnam. He said Vietnam must beat the Philippines to advance. That is the only way. He hoped Nguyen Sa would get better soon and that the Vietnamese footballers would play better in the next game.
In the other Group A match, hosts Thailand had a hard time beating the Philippines 2-1.