‘Soccer sorcerer’ Toshiya Miura, the Japanese coach of the Vietnamese national football team, has become a hit with Vietnamese fans after he led his team to a 2-1 away win over Malaysia in the semifinal first leg of the 2014 Suzuki Cup on Sunday.
It is not merely the win but, above all, the keen eyes and intelligence of the manager in substituting players that have driven him to become a favorite.
During the match in Kuala Lumpur, fans must have been surprised at Miura’s decisions in replacing players which later proved very effective.
Seeing iconic striker Cong Vinh exhausted just ten minutes into the second half, the Japanese coach still refused to get him out, and instead withdrew midfielder Thanh Luong, who was controlling the ball well.
Former coach Mai Duc Chung, who was the head of the Vietnamese football delegation to Malaysia, and Dang Phuong Nam, an assistant to Miura, both agreed that the Japanese man made a sharp decision.
Vinh was tired but he could assist the defense from the front. In addition, the forward is experienced enough to attract rival defenders and thus create space for his teammates to score, Nam explained.
In short, Vinh may not have been able to score but could help create goals.
If the opponents had ‘ignored’ him, he could have shined within seconds to blast decisive shots.
As for Luong, who was replaced by the robust Mac Hong Quan on the right flank, he was displaying ‘shortness of breath’ in competing with the Malaysians on the side.
Quan was the right choice to fill the gap with his better strength and height to break the attacking formation of the Malaysian side from the wing.
And Quan proved this was the correct decision when he made a precise pass to Van Quyet for the second goal for Vietnam after just a minute on the field.
Vietnamese fans have had many chances to watch the talent of their Japanese friend. They have become more ‘eager’ to see how Miura will display his ‘soccer sorcery’ in arranging his line-up for the return match with Malaysia in Hanoi on Thursday.
Fans also enjoy seeing Miura celebrate like a boy and stoke the spirit of his players during half-time.
His players recalled that their manager entered the locker room and told them they were playing better than their Malaysian opponents so they should take the chance to win.
The second leg match will decide who will go on to play in the final against either Thailand or the Philippines – who will take on each other in the other second leg today in Bangkok after a 0-0 draw in Manila on Saturday – but Miura has gained increasing trust from Vietnamese experts and fans.
The 2014 Suzuki Cup finale will be played on a home and away basis on December 17 and 20.
The organizing board of the 2014 Suzuki Cup decided to select Japanese referees to officiate the second leg game between Vietnam and Malaysia at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on Thursday.
Toma Masaaki will be the main referee, assisted by two linesmen Otsuka Haruhiro and Ochi Shinji, and the fourth official is Kimura Hhiroyuki.Thai referee Russamee Jindamai will be the supervisor of the refereeing of the match.