VN’s Binh Duong beat Syrian club in AFC semifinal 1st leg

Becamex Binh Duong, the first Vietnamese club to reach the last four of a continental competition, stunned Al Karamah from Syria 2-1 in Thursday’s AFC Cup semifinal first leg.

Becamex Binh Duong of Vietnam stunned Al Karamah from Syria 2-1 in Thursday’s AFC Cup semifinal first leg at Go Dau Stadium in the southern province of Binh Duong.

The hosts continued to show their good performance in the Asian Champions League after knocking out Thai powerhouses Chonburi in the quarterfinals to become the first Vietnamese team to reach the last four of a continental competition.

Before the match, Al Karamah coach Mohamad Kawid told ESPN: “Vietnam football is on the rise and drawing the attention of the whole continent, and the level of their club football is also high.”

Al Karamah reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League in each of the last two seasons.

Binh Duong defender Chi Cong (in red) fires the first goal with a header in the 17th minute (Photo: SGGP)

In Binh Duong Province Thursday, the hosts started the game with their strongest line-up including key players Huynh Quang Thanh and Nguyen Vu Phong, as well as first-choice goalkeeper Nguyen The Anh, who missed the victory over Thai club Chonburi in the 2-0 second leg win.

Defender Nguyen Chi Cong, who performed well in the game against Chonburi, pushed the home side ahead with a header in the 17th minute. It was Vu Phong who made the corner kick that led to Cong’s goal.

South African striker Philani enlarged the gap shortly before the break with a rapid touch in the middle of Al Karamah players.

Vu Phong missed a good chance in the 60th minute as his finish was wide. Actually, Molina’s cross was so strong for him to put the ball into the Al Karamah net, unprotected at that moment.

Just when the Binh Duong defense system lost concentration, striker Alomier scored for the Syrian side.

Binh Duong coach Mai Duc Chung said after the game, “We could have kept the gap of two goals if we hadn’t lost concentration just a minute. However, I’m very pleased with my players and the final score.”

Al Karamah coach Kawid said, “Binh Duong played better than us. We will have a tough time in the second leg. However, we still see big chance to reach the final.”

The two teams will play the second-leg at Al Karamah’s home stadium on Oct. 21. A draw means the Vietnamese club will play the final of the Asian Champions League.

By Quang Tri

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