India's prospects brighten after Vietnam lose
Vietnam under-23 were beaten by a spirited Singapore under-23 side 1-2 in a closely-fought Group B match, in the LG Cup football tournament on Sunday.
The defeat of the hosts has brightened India's chances of making it to the semi-finals. The Baichung Bhutia-led Indian side, which was held to a 2-2 draw by Singapore in their opening encounter, now need at least a draw when they meet Vietnam under-23 on Tuesday to advance.
With Singapore already assured of a semi-final berth, the field has been thrown wide open for the remaining three berths in this six-nation tournament.
Sunday's match saw Singapore taking the early lead in the 14th minute through a goal by Masrezwan B Masturi.
Though Singapore dominated the first half, the hosts equalised soon after the break with a goal in the 46th minute by Vu Nhu Thanh, who scored from a penalty kick.
Despite some spirited attacks by Vietnam, Singapore took the lead again in the 64th minute through Shafaein, which they maintained to win the match.
Shafaein was adjudged the best player of the match.
Earlier, in a Group-A match, reigning champions Indonesia were made to work hard by a youthful Thailand before prevailing by two second half goals.
The match was important for Indonesia as they had lost their earlier encounter to the Vietnam national team.
Vietnam, after a 3-1 win over Indonesia in their first match, now emerge favourites to move into the semi-finals as the second team from the group. They will meet Thailand under-20 on August 6.
The reigning champions totally dominated the first half at the Thong Nhat stadium but failed to find the target in the goalless first half.
The inexperienced Indonesian forwards failed to make the most of the chances created by their seasoned midfielder Ellie Alboy.
In the second half the Indonesians made amends for their lapses. Their most experienced midfielder Alboy scored the first goal three minutes into the second half.
Although Indonesia dominated the proceedings in the second half, Thailand made some counter-attacks but failed to beat goalkeeper Mukti Ali Radja.
M Jamal Ikhawan shut the door on Thailand with a goal in the dying moments to give Indonesia a 2-0 lead.
After Sunday's victory, Indonesia coach Sanusi Rachman said he is confident of his side reaching the final.
"We came here with the aim of reaching the final and I still think we can do it.
"This will give us perhaps another opportunity to play against Vietnam National team in the final," said the coach.
The Thai coach Polchivin on the other hand praised the team members for their performance.
"Ours is a team for the future and the way the youngsters played in the first half today was very impressive," he said.
Earlier on Friday, the India under-23 side was held for a 2-2 draw in their first match against the Singapore under-23. The scorers for India were Mohammed Faizal and K Ajayan while for Singapore were Aliff Shafaein Bin Safie'e and Ashrin Bin Shariff respectively.
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