Vietnam's U23 squad wins Thang Long Cup

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Vietnam's U23 team did themselves proud by winning the Thang Long Cup in Ho Chi Minh City, beating their stronger counterparts from Iran at the Thong Nhat Stadium on Saturday.

Facing a superior rival, the Vietnamese team resorted to making smart plays and keeping a close guard on their rivals, making it very hard for the Persian Gulf visitors to launch attacks.

Not allowed to implement their strategies, the Iranians found both attack and defense difficult, making it possible for the hosts to control the match.

Playmaker Thanh Hung worked as a good link between the Vietnamese defenders and attackers, helping the team maintain better possession of the ball.

Right after the break, Vietnam took the lead with striker Anh Duc heading home a Duc Thien corner kick.

But Anh Duc made things difficult for his team, leaving the field with a red card after an attack on Iran's Moosavi Ivan.

Coach Phan Thanh Hung immediately replaced Thanh Trung with striker Dinh Tung to facilitate fast counter attacks.

With midfielders moving closer to the home goal to better support the defenders, and the latter positioning themselves very well, the team was able to stand firm against pressure from the Iranians.

In a rapid counterattack towards the end of the match, substitute Dinh Tung slid the ball between goalkeeper Sadeghi's legs to double the score. The 15,000-strong audience exploded into applause.

Coach Hung said after the game, "The win over Iran was very significant for us. It will help the players gain confidence before the coming Asian Games."

The win, together with a scoreless draw with Singapore on Thursday and a 2-1 win over Malaysians, earned the Vietnamese the Thang Long Cup in HCMC along with the tournament's US$20,000 cash prize.

 In addition, the team was awarded a VND200 million ($10,000) bonus by the Vietnam Football Federation and another VND100 million by the HCMC Football Federation.

The Thang Long Cup contest in Ho Chi Minh City was organized to celebrate Thang Long-Hanoi's 1,000th anniversary.

A Hanoi edition of the tournament was held in the capital city from September 20-24. This was won by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Vietnam's national team came in second.

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