Coach S. Balachandran’s Harimau Muda secured a 2-1 victory over PVF Vietnam in the first leg final of the FAM-Frenz Asia Champions Trophy U-16 2014 at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.
The young tigers and PVF Vietnam will renew their title rivalry in the return leg match at Frenz Stadium in Janda Baik, Pahang this Sunday.
“I'm satisfied with this score since we are playing in Vietnam. I would like to congratulate my boys for a great job here,” said Balachandran, adding that they will now aim to score more goals back home.
“In the first half, PVF Vietnam played a defensive game but we managed to find the space to score the opening goal. I was rather worried about the pitch condition but things got better when the water receded,” he said.
The kick-off was earlier delayed for an hour following a heavy downpour and when play got underway there was little the Malaysians could do on a water logged pitch.
On the opposite end, the Vietnamese seem to have adapted fast and showed glimpses of brilliance on the wet pitch as they went about firing on all cylinders.
Striker Pham Trong Hua squandered two chances that came his way, the first in the third minute when his header went wide after goalkeeper Muhd Asri Muhammad failed to latch onto the ball, and the second five minute later when he shot into the side net.
The young tigers, however, shrugged off the early scare by showing plenty of grit as they battled back to silence the estimated 500 home fans with a penalty in the 39th minute after midfielder Najib Abdullah was brought down inside the penalty box by defender Le Thanh Phong.
Striker Kogileswaran Raj packed enough power from the spot to send goalkeeper Phan Van Bieu the wrong way for Harimau Muda Under-16’s opening goal and his 14th in the tournament as the Malaysians grabbed a 1-0 half time lead.
The Vietnamese put that disappointment behind in the second half and rocked the Malaysians confidence with a Le Ngoc Bao header in the 71st minute after a receiving a cross from Thanh Phong from the right flack.
But that joy only short-lived just as it erupted into wild celebrations much earlier as Harimau Muda U-16 responded immediately three minutes later through Muhammad Najmuddin Samat who cleverly maneuvered his way past an onrushing goalkeeper Van Bieu to put the ball into goal and in the process seal the game 2-1 in favour of the visitors.
PVF Vietnam tried all they could in the remaining minutes in search for the equalizer but was denied by the Malaysian defenders bent on returning home with this slim victory.
Meanwhile, defending champions Chonburi FC and Frenz United Malaysia played to a goalless draw in the first leg of their third-fourth placing match at the Chonburi Stadium on Sunday.
The return leg match will be played on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at Frenz Stadium (Kick-off time 4.30pm).