Vietnam, Malaysia to fight for U21 football trophy

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Vietnam beat Sydney FC and Malaysia defeated Thailand Friday in the semifinals of the Under-21 International Football Tournament in Gia Lai Province's Pleiku Town.

The final match  of the 6th edition of the annual football tourney sponsored by Thanh Nien newspaper will be played on Sunday.

Sydney FC had not looked at their best in the group stage. They beat Laos 2-1 and lost 2-4 to Malaysia to finish second in Group B.

However, they put on a much better show in the semifinals. They launched attacks and counter-attacks but Vietnam, who finished atop Group A after a 6-1 victory over Singapore and a 2-0 win over Thailand, still looked the better side.

In the 34th minute,  Dinh Bao got the opener for Vietnam, scoring his sixth goal in three games at the contest.

The Australians shifted to a more attacking mode as they looked for an equalizer, giving their opponents more space to attack. The hosts  doubled the score just two minutes after the break, with striker Ha Minh Tuan firing in from close range.

The Australians conceded the third goal of the match when striker Vu Minh Tuan came off the bench to defeat custodian Ryan Norval nine minutes from full time.

In the final minutes of the match, Tien Duy was sent off with a red card for retaliating after being tackled by an Australian player.

Earlier, Malaysia beat under-prepared Thailand by a solitary goal.

Thai coach Sarawut Treephan said he had expected lots of difficulties from the Malaysian team but he did not have enough good players to deal with the situation.

Malaysian coach Ong Kim Swee said his team deserved to win the game, adding his team could have scored more than just one goal if the players had shown better finishing skills.

Sydney FC coach Brian Dene said, "The Vietnamese players showed very good skills. They moved around and combined very well. The loss today is a good lesson for our players."

The Vietnamese coach, Dinh Van Dung, said, "Our players accurately applied the strategies devised by the coaching staff. In the final match, the Malaysians are a strong rival.  We will try to find out a way to deal with them.

"By the way, I'd like to apologize to football fans for the red card that Tien Duy got for an incident which should not have happened. We will strictly penalize him."

The win over Sydney FC earned the Vietnamese players a reward of VND100 million (US$4,800) from the Vietnam Football Federation.

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