First defeat for Eriksson’s Azkals, but tournament dream not over yet

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defeat
Vietnamese players celebrate their victory yesterday. Picture via the AFF Suzuki Cup Twitter page.

Sven-Goran Eriksson suffered his first defeat as Philippine coach as Vietnam won 2-1 in the first leg of the Southeast Asian cup semi-final.

Eriksson, who has signed a five-month contract with the Azkals and will lead them through the Asean Football Federation Championships before overseeing their first-ever appearance at the Asian Cup in January, has previously won two and drawn two of his first four games as coach.

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Yesterday (Sunday, December 2) the former England manager’s side fell behind after 12 minutes as Nguyen Anh Duc directed a header over goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard and across the line following Doan Van Hau’s punt forward.

Patrick Reichelt equalised for the Philippines in first-half stoppage time when he launched himself at Phil Younghusband’s cross to finish a close-range volley.

However, three minutes into the second half, the Vietnamese were back in front as Phan Van Duc controlled Nguyen Trong Hoang’s ball through the Philippines defence, leaving the striker to slot beyond Falkesgaard.

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The teams will meet again in Hanoi on Thursday with the Philippines needing to overcome the one-goal deficit to take their place in the final of the regional tournament for the first time.

The winners will take on either Thailand or Malaysia in the final, with the pair due to play the second leg of their semi-final on Wednesday in Bangkok following a 0-0 draw in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. 

Speaking of Sunday’s defeat, Eriksson said: “The referee allowed a lot of things, I would say in both ways. He allowed a lot today, but football is like this. If you want to beat them, you have to step up and fight. And I think we did that.

“Now, we fly to Hanoi and try to change the tie. I’ve seen bigger surprises in football than that, so we are not out of Suzuki Cup yet. Absolutely not.” 

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