HANOI (17 Dec 2008) – Defending champions Singapore were lucky to escape with a scoreless draw in their first-leg semi clash of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2008 against Vietnam here at the My Dinh Stadium.
The deadlock has given Singapore the advantage for the return tie which will be held at the National Stadium on 21 Dec 2008.
"We were lucky in the game. The Vietnamese players played at a very fast tempo although on hindsight, I believe that our players just did not play," said
"We were on the field but we did not try to play the game."
Playing in front of more than 35,000 screaming fans saw Vietnam pushing hard from the very first whistle.
In the third minute, Le Tan Tai headed in a cross from Doan Viet Cuong while several minutes later, Nguyen Viet Thang blasted in from inside the Singapore box only to see the ball coming off the upright.
And in the 23rd minute, Nguyen Vu Phong's freekick saw a header from Phan Van Tai Em which went into the arms of Lionel Lewis.
The Lions did a lot more of the defending in the first half with defender Viet Cuong shutting out Agu Casimir which saw Singapore struggling to get past Vietnam defensive line.
Vietnam started the second half very much on the same vein as they had done in the first although the change for the mercurial Noh Alam Shah did gave Singapore some pace upfront.
In the 65th minute, Agu broke through but Vietnam custodian Duong Hong Son was there for the clearance while a minute later, Noh Alam's header missed the target altogether.
Le Cong Vinh then blasted over the cross bar in the 72nd minute.
Two minutes later, Singapore had an own goal disallowed when Viet Cuong's header was deemed to be offside by assistant referee Suaidi Yunus from Indonesia.
"Vietnam played very well and we missed only the goal to make it perfect," added Henrique Calisto, the head coach for Vietnam.
"We played with good spirit and there were no defensive or midfield mistakes."
VIETNAM: Duong Hèng Son, Doan Viet Cuong, Le Phuoc Tu, Vu Nhu Thanh, Huynh Quang Thanh, Nguyen Vu Phong, Nguyen Minh Chau, Phan Van Tai Em, Le Tan Tai, Nguyen Viet Thang, Le CongVinh.
SINGAPORE: Lionel Lewis, Moh©med Noh R©hman, Emuejeraye Precious, Baihakki Khaizan, Mark Bennett, Mohd Ridhuan Muhammad, Mohd Isa Halim, Mustafic Fahrudin, Shi Jiayi, Indra Sahdan Daud, Agu Casimir.