Media in Southeast Asia and outside said Vietnam’s Under-23 football team, who thrashed Singapore 4-1 in the SEA Games semifinals, are deemed to be much stronger than their opponents Malaysia in the final on Thursday in Laos.
Malaysia lost 1-3 to Vietnam in the group stage but rallied to beat defending champions Thailand 2-1 in the final match of Group A. Given with Thailand’s early exit and Vietnam’s performance in the group stage and semifinals, regional media said the Vietnamese men would be crowned.
|Vietnam striker Mai Tien Thanh (front) finishes to put the score at 2-1 in the Vietnam vs. Singapore semifinal in Laos on Dec. 14. Vietnam won 4-1. (Photo: SGGP)|
Goal.com, an international sports news website, wrote on Dec. 15, one day after the two semifinals, “This year will perhaps be the best year for Vietnam to win their first ever gold medal at the SEA Games after three failed attempts considering that defending champions Thailand are already out of contention following their defeat to Malaysia earlier.”
On the same day, Singapore’s Channel News run headline ‘Singapore's football dream ends’.
“For most of the 90 minutes, Singapore seemed overawed and nervous. They were slow while the Vietnamese were bright and fast, the Singapore players were always second to the 50-50 balls and seemed out of ideas in the creative department,” the article wrote.
Channel News quoted Singapore coach Terry Pathmanathan as saying, “To be honest, this match was an uphill task from the start. Vietnam are technically good, and quick.”
Meanwhile, AsiaOne News, also of Singapore, wrote: “There was no shame in losing to a superior Vietnam.”
Vietnam will play Malaysia in the final and Singapore will meet hosts Laos to compete the bronze medal Thursday at the new National Stadium in Vientiane.
Fifty years ago, the southern Vietnam team won the SEAP Games (currently SEA Games). Since that year 1959, Vietnam have never won the regional Games again.
Vietnam's national team won the ASEAN Cup last year for the first time.