AFC Cup: Hoa Phat Ha Noi 0 – 0 Negeri Sembilan

Viet Nam’s Hoa Phat Ha Noi on Tuesday played out a tame scoreless draw with Malaysia’s Negeri Sembilan at Ha Noi’s Hang Day Stadium in their Group D second-leg match of the AFC Cup 2007.

Hoa Phat Ha Noi’s Brazilian striker William Santos battles for the ball with two Negeri Sembilan defenders

The visitors, who went into the game four points adrift of Group D leaders Xiangzue Sun Hei with two matches remaining, were incapable of making an impression against the Vietnamese strugglers, who have yet to register a win in this year's competition.

Malaysian striker Kumarasamy had a chance to put the visitors in front in the ninth minute but his too-light shot toward the net was picked off almost leisurely by goalkeeper Manh Dung.

Hoa Phat Ha Noi’s coach Nguyen Tien Dung threw on midfielder Nguyen Anh Cuong in the second half and his close control caused the Negeri Sembilan’s midfield and defense numerous problems.

The second half was just three minutes old when Cuong was allowed to charge the goal but his close-range header from right winger Hong Viet’s long cross was sky-high.

Three minutes later saw Hoa Phat Ha Noi’s Brazilian strikers William Santos and captain Das Silva combining well, but unmarked Silva dragged a right-foot finish wide.

After a brief rally, the host side went back to playing humdrum football with a misfiring Brazilian front line, weak defense and frustrated midfielders making many wrong passes.

With 20 minutes to go, however, the game finally sprung into life, with the visitors to the fore. Liew Kit Kong went close in the 75th minute, as did Tengku Qayyam Ubaidillah seven minutes later.

The Malaysians continued to create enough chances in the dying minutes to take the three points for a win, then failed to capitalize on them.

In the 85th minute, Freddy Santos fired off a low shot that goalkeeper Manh Dung managed to touch around the post.

Three minutes later Liew Kit Kong was again causing problems but his header was cleared off the line by Vietnamese defender Hoang Nam.

Hoa Phat Ha Noi almost stole the win at the death when right winger Cong Manh fired a fierce shot from the edge of the box only to see it bounce back off the woodwork.
 
The result means Sun Hei can clinch a place in the knockout phase by drawing with Victory SC from the Maldives in the day's later game.

By Hoang Uy

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