Manama: Vietnam made a winning start to their 2016 AFC U-19 Championship campaign on Friday evening as goals from Ha Duc Chinh and Doan Van Hau sealed a 2-1 victory over DPR Korea at Khalifa Sports City Stadium.
Duc Chinh scored with 20 minutes remaining in a tight game to give the Vietnamese the lead before Van Hau secured a vital second in the 90th minute to secure victory for the South East Asian side, leaving DPR Korea’s Ryang Hyon-ju to score an injury time consolation.
Vietnam started brightly, with Hoang Anh Tuan’s side on the front foot from the beginning and carving out the better of the few chances created in the opening 45 minutes.
It was an error by DPR Korea goalkeeper Ri In-hak that presented the Vietnamese with their first sight of goal with only 12 minutes of the game gone when his miss-hit clearance fell at the feet of Duong Van Hao and his shot from 20 yards out came back off the post.
The Vietnamese threatened again in the 34th minute when, following a slick build up, Ho Minh Di sent in a curling cross towards Van Hao that the forward headed over the crossbar while two minutes before the break Duc Chinh hit a speculative shot from distance that was well wide.
DPR Korea pressed throughout the first half, but the well-marshalled Vietnamese defensive line held firm, presenting Ri Song-ho’s side with few chances to seriously threaten goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung.
The game continued to be tight and chances were at a premium in the second half until Duc Chinh finally broke the deadlock in the 70th minute. The Vietnamese worked the ball across the field until it came to substitute winger Tran Thanh and his cross found Duc Chinh, who steered his header home.
Three minutes later Duc Chinh should have added a second when, following a scrappy period of play by both teams, Thanh fizzed in a low ball that the unmarked striker should have done better with than steer wide across the face of goal.
DPR Korea picked up the pace as time ticked down, but the Vietnamese always presented a threat on the break and, with the game in the final minute of normal time, Van Hau’s speculative effort from 25 yards flew across goalkeeper Ri and into the goal.
Three minutes into injury time, Ryang finally found the back of the net for DPR Korea, but it was not enough to salvage anything from the game.
Vietnam coach Honag Anh Tuan "I’m very happy today because of this win. Everybody said before kick-off that we were the outsider in this and you can talk about winning or losing, but we have to try 100 percent and today you saw that the players were fighting and I’m very happy today.
"Our mentality was excellent. DPR Korea are a strong team but I spoke with our players and told them the first match is always very difficult psychologically and we showed more fight and that was the key."
DPR Korea coach Ri Song-ho "We played our first match today and unfortunately we lost the game, but I hope the players have learned something from this. It’s their first match and mentally they were a bit nervous and also not prepared physically for this game. My team played how I expected in the game and we have to prepare better for the next game.
"The weather was one of the reasons because the players aren’t used to this because in DPR Korea it’s cold, but most of all they’re not fully recovered from the travel fatigue. I think Vietnam found it easier to adapt than we did, they were still playing in the second half and keeping possession of the ball."