V-League champs beat Thai Port in AFC Cup opener

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V-League champions Da Nang beat Thailand’s Thai Port 3-2 in the opening match of the 2010 Asian Football Confederation Cup on Wednesday.

Da Nang are competing in the second-tier AFC Cup tournament because it lost 0-3 at home a month ago to Thai League champs Muangthong United in a play-off match for a berth in the top-tier Asian Champions League.

In the second-tier competition, Da Nang is in Group H with Thai Port, Geylang United from Singapore and Tai Po of Hong Kong.

Thai Port had to take on Da Nang without the support their home fans because of a ban imposed by the Football Association of Thailand following riots during a Thai-League match the previous week.

Visitors Da Nang did not have some of their best players, including defenders Hai Lam and Van Hoc and playmaker Nguyen Rogerio, who were nursing injuries.

The Thai side converted their home soil advantage to score the opener after 15 minutes when Jirawat sent a bouncing ball into Da Nang’s net after captain Sarayoot’s header hit the post.

Keeping calm after conceding the first goal, Da Nang coach Le Huynh Duc improved the defense by asking his team to play more confidently.

Striker Gaston Merlo duly found the equalizer about 10 minutes later, breaking the off-side trap.

Encouraged by the equalizer, Da Nang began attacked better and Nicolas Hernandes and Phan Thanh Hung struck in the second half to make it 3-1 before Pitipong’s header pulled one goal back for the home team in stoppage time.

Speaking at the press conference after the match, coach Duc said he was very pleased with the win, which was more than what he’d expected.

Source: Thanh Nien

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