Vietnam the U21 champions

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The under-21 national team wins the Thanh Nien-sponsored football tournament by beating Sydney FC in the final

   The U.21 National team wins the Thanh Nien-sponsored Under-21 International Football Tournament in Ninh Thuan Province. Photos: Kha Hoa

Despite losing 4-0 to the Socceroos in the group stage, the Vietnamese drew 1-1 with the Australians in the official 90 minutes before winning the U.21 International Football Tournament by beating them 4-1 in the penalty shoot-out Wednesday.

The young Vietnamese players were given enthusiastic support from more than 12,000 spectators at Ninh Thuan Stadium.

Playing in the 4-4-1-1 formation, the Vietnamese were generally on equal terms with the visitors although the Australians were physically superior and more skillful.

Unlike the previous defeat, the local squad showed their toughness. They positioned themselves well and kept close to the Australians to prevent them from launching overwhelming attacks.

In the midfield, Van Thuan, Khac Ngoc and Sy Sam played intelligently and launched relentless attacks. Sydney's defenders had to work very hard.

The Nhat was Vietnam's best defender, despite his short stature, and he stopped several Australian advances with cool and calm.


Speaking at the closing ceremony, Journalist Nguyen Cong Khe, Chairman of Thanh Nien Media Corporation and Chief of the Organizing Committee, said, "After 11 days of exciting enthusiastic competition among the five U.21 teams from Sydney FC, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam, the final match between Sydney FC's U.21s and Vietnamese U.21s was beautiful.

"It was not affected by any elements except the real fair play spirit as we expected from the first day of organizing the tournament.

"We were right in choosing Ninh Thuan as the hosts of the 7th edition of the tournament. The home fans and officials of Ninh Thuan Province made great impressions by organizing a successful event in the spirit of sportsmanship. We would like to thank the sponsors for their contributions to the success of the event."

By Thanh Thang

Though they conceded a goal in the final minute of the first half when Joshua Macdonald scored for the visitors, Vietnam came back even stronger after the break.

Dangerous attacks put the Sydney squad under constant pressure. The Australians began playing more cautiously, always leaving five players in their part of the field.

But their great caution failed to stop Van Thuan from making a terrific pass to unmarked striker Dinh Bao, who went around a Sydney defender before leveling the score in the 67th minute.

After the equalizer, the Vietnamese players continued to control the match until the final minute and through the penalty shoot-out.

Surprisingly enough, Khac Ngoc, Viet Phong, Van Dung and The Nhat all scored from the penalty spot while goalkeeper Van Cong made a huge contribution by saving a shot from Joshua Scott Simonoski and the Vietnamese players won the trophy for the 7th edition of the youth football event sponsored by Thanh Nien newspaper.

In the fight for the third place, the Malaysian U21s, who were dethroned by the Vietnamese in the final stage group match, beat Myanmar 2-1.


Vietnamese U.21s as champions: $12,000 (presented by Truong Hai Auto JSC)

Sydney FC's U.21s as runners-up: $7,000

Third-placed Malaysian U21s: $5,000 (given by Hoa Sen Group)

Fair play winners Myanmar U.21s: $3,000 (offered by Vwin Today Co.)

The "best player of the tournament" Ho Khac Ngoc: $500 (given by DP Consulting Co.)

Vietnamese team's best player Pham The Nhat: $500 (given by Khanh Hoa Bird's Nest Co.)

Best striker Alec Urosevski: $500 (given by Binh Duong FC)

Best goalkeeper Tristan Prendergast: $500
(Given by Thai Son Nam Co.)

By Quang Huy

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