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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, December 6, 2018
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Azkals attempt to
re-create ‘Miracle in Hanoi’


Needing to chase goals after a 2-1 defeat in last week’s first leg, Philippines coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has termed it “suicidal” to focus only on attack against a strong Vietnam team in tonight’s semifinal second leg encounter in Hanoi.

Goals from Nguyen Anh Duc and Phan Van Duc either side of Patrick Reichelt’s first half, stoppage time, strike eased the Golden Stars to the win in Bacolod City but Eriksson said patience as well as defensive solidity will be the key to turning the result around in Vietnam.

“I think it’s possible even if it’s difficult and, of course, we have to attack but as everybody knows if we only attack we will lose goals at the other end. If you don’t defend well against Vietnam, they will score against you so I can’t just tell the players to go out and only attack, that would be suicide,” Eriksson said.

“First of all, we have to make sure they don’t score and then hope we can score so we have to be good at both defending and attacking, or otherwise, we don’t have a chance.”

Vietnam coach, Park Hang-seo, noted that even though the win has put the hosts in a strong position, they need to learn the lessons from having been dumped out in the semis in 2014 at the hands of Malaysia, having also held a 2-1 away lead from the first leg.

“We played well in the first leg in Bacolod but we also have to remember what happened in 2014 against Malaysia so we have to concentrate fully. “We missed several chances late in the first leg but we’ve reviewed the video of that match and even though we played well there was some problems and we have to solve those problems heading into this match.”

The visitors, too, have several problems to solve, headlined by the fact that they only have 18 available players in Hanoi and that they also have to contend with a sold-out My Dinh crowd that’s renowned for creating an intimidating atmosphere, not that Eriksson seems too bothered by it.

“It’s nice to have that support and play in front of such a big crowd, even as the away team. “Of course, they all want Vietnam to win but we want to make those 40,000 supporters have a little surprise,” he said.

On December 5, 2010, the Azkals went to Vietnam to face the defending champions and their 40,000 fans. Nobody gave the visitors a second thought. In six previous appearances and 21 games at the tournament, the Philippines had won just once, scoring 10 and conceding 76. Vietnam had started their title defense with a 7-0 thrashing of Myanmar. Yet the Philippines won 2-0. It was a stunning result, ESPN reported.

It added that while the Azkals’ triumph eight years ago sent shockwaves throughout the Southeast Asian football region and was as a major turning point for the team, the match tonight at My Dinh Stadium - the very same venue of the 2010 shocker - will be for a place in the 2018 Suzuki Cup final.*affsuzukicup.com


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