​Vietnam eliminated from SEA Games football after Thailand defeat

Vietnam started the campaign with high hopes, only to be eliminated from the group stage

Vietnam's Van Toan (R) fights for the ball against Thailand's Sasalak during their match in Malaysia on August 24, 2017.

Vietnam were routed 0-3 by Thailand and therefore knocked out of the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games men’s football tournament during their last Group B game on Thursday, where they only needed one point to be able to advance.

The Vietnamese Group B leaders were at a bigger advantage than their Thai rivals as they needed only a draw to book a semifinal ticket.

However, the Golden Stars appeared to be under extreme psychological pressure when they let the Thais dominate the game right from the beginning.

Vietnam managed to neutralize multiple attacks from Thailand until two minutes into the first half’s injury time, when Phittiwat netted the opener from an indirect free kick inside the penalty area.

The Vietnamese players failed to free themselves from pressure in the second half, with Thailand’s Phicha easily expanding the lead to 2-0 in the 52nd minute.

Thailand players celebrate after scoring the second goal.
Thailand players celebrate after scoring the second goal.

Hope seemed to be revived for Vietnam when they were awarded a penalty kick in the 65th minute, but star striker Cong Phuong would only kick the ball to the sky.

The wasted chance marked the point when the Vietnamese all gave it up. Thailand’s Samphaodi netted the third goal and settled the game in the 69th minute.

Following the victory against Vietnam, Thailand made it to the semifinals as Group B leaders, along with Indonesia, who beat Cambodia 2-0 in the other Group B game on Thursday.

In Group A, Myanmar have advanced as the group leaders, with the other ticket won by hosts Malaysia.

Vietnam's Cong Phuong reacts after his failed penalty.
Vietnam's Cong Phuong reacts after his failed penalty.

Before the SEA Games started, Vietnam’s coach and players were all upbeat about changing the color of their medal from silver to gold this year.

The Vietnamese have made it to the tournament’s final game five times in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2009 but never won. At the most recent Games in 2015, they won bronze.

Vietnam started the campaign with high hopes, only to be eliminated from the group stage.

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