PHNOM PENH (Jan 26, 2002) – Laos sent shock waves through the regional football fraternity when they stunned Vietnam 1-0 at the Cambodian Army Stadium here today to qualify for the semifinals of the inaugural AFF Under-20 tournament. The win also sent Laos to the top of the group with a maximum nine points from three matches.
Laos scored victories over the Philippines (4-0) and Brunei (2-1) in their first two games but it was the win over Vietnam today which proved that they were a formidable side.
The Laotions, enjoying one of the their finest runs in recent times, took to the pitch full of confidence and they switched into battle mode right from the beginning.
Latraphon Khanyavong was installed as the new hero of the fans in his country when he scored the only goal of the match in the 40th minute.
Th frustration of not being able to break through must have got the Vietnam’s Nguyen Lam Tan who was given the marching orders in the 77th minute.
Four Vietnamese players, including Lam Tan, were booked by referee Midi Nitrorejo of Indonesia. Two Laos players also were also flashed the yellow card.
Although Laos have one more game to go against Cambodia on Monday, they are already through to the semis, what’s left is for them to top the group and avoid the prospect of meeting Thailand in the crossover semifinals.
Vietnam are also virtually through to the last four as they have six points from three games and have another tie remaining against Brunei on Monday. A draw will be enough to take them through.
Philippines are third in the group with three points and they will have to wait for Monday to know if they still have any hopes of advancing.
But for this to happen, and it is highly unlikely, Philippines must hope for Brunei to defeat Vietnam. Then the Filipinos will have to score a big win in their final match against Brunei on Tuesday.