AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 semi-finals

Philippines - Vietnam: Key battles to determine the clash

Sunday, 2018-12-02 14:37:58
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NDO – In the semi-final first leg at Panaad Stadium (Bacolod, Philippines) tonight, the key battles on the field will likely determine the outcome of the match, as both teams are aiming for a win to gain an advantage ahead of the return leg four days later.

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Nguyen Anh Duc vs Alvaro Silva

According to FOX Sports Asia, as the oldest player in the squad consisting of 15 U-23 players, Nguyen Anh Duc has proved his leading role in the attack, contributing to sending Vietnam into the semi-finals as Group A winners. Two goals to his name in three appearances in the tournament this year, along with six assists in 251 minutes of play, have revealed the clinical side of the 33-year-old striker. His experience gained in attending the AFF Cup 2010 and 2014 is still crucial for the young squad’s journey at this year’s tournament.

The task of stopping the Vietnamese attacker in the upcoming match will rely on the burly Philippines centre-back Alvaro Silva. In just two starts for the Azkals, the Spain-born defender has already made 11 clearances and five interceptions proving how crucial he is to the nation’s chances at the Suzuki Cup. Silva has a success rate of 100% when it comes to tackles and has also completed 87 passes in the two games at a success rate 84.5% - impressive figures for any defender.

Phil Younghusband vs Tran Dinh Trong

It is another confrontation between a striker and a defender at the other end of the pitch. Vietnam has the best defence in the AFF Cup this year so far without conceding any goals, but against the physically-superior naturalised players of the Azkals, the Vietnamese defence will likely have to struggle against the long ball. In particular, captain Phil Younghusband with the ideal height of 1m84 will be the biggest threat to the Vietnamese defenders. The Philippines striker scored his first goal in the group stage match against Timor Leste, and will certainly make his height advantage count against the Golden Dragons.

But this will not be an easy task for the 31-year-old striker, as surely Phil Younghusband will be under the close watch of the Vietnamese defensive line, including centre-back Tran Dinh Trong. Dinh Trong was one of the important factors to contribute to the success of Vietnamese football in the AFC U23 Championship earlier this year, as well as in keeping complete clean sheet in the AFF Cup 2018. The Hanoi FC defender has played all four Vietnam matches in the group stage, making 15 clearances, two blocks and three interceptions so far. The 1.74 metre-tall centre-back has also completed 133 passes in the tournament at a success rate of 84.7%

Manuel Ott vs Nguyen Quang Hai

The confrontation in the midfield will also contribute to the gameplay of the two teams as well as the result of the game. In particular, the two prominent names in the midfield are Manny Ott and Nguyen Quang Hai. With 46 international caps for his country, 26-year-old Manny Ott is a key player in the Azkals squad and continues to play his part under new coach Sven-Goran Eriksson. The German-born star, who played in three of the Philippines' four matches at the AFF Cup 2018, has so far delivered an average of 60 passes per game with a success rate of 84.9%. The Ceres Negros FC midfielder has also made four key passes in the tournament and fired a total of six shots in the three matches he has played.

Meanwhile, Quang Hai's statistics are even more impressive. The 21-year-old has played all four matches for the 2010 champions so far and has completed 221 passes, the second best in the tournament. The star of the Vietnam U23 squad also provided nine key passes and an assist during those games, plus two goals to his name, enough to assert his very important role in the gameplay of the national team under coach Park Hang-seo.