Historic victory leaves PH bewildered

Hanoi: Philippines coach Simon McMenemy was in a state of disbelief after seeing his team hand defending champions Vietnam a stunning 2-0 defeat in Group B of the AFF Suzuki Cup on Sunday evening at the My Dinh Stadium.

Chris Greatwich and Phil Younghusband scored the goals as the Philippines claimed their greatest win in recent history and remarkably moved to the top of the group standings ahead of Singapore on goal difference.

“I’m pinching myself, I’m not sure we have done what we have done,” said McMenemy. “I keep thinking I’ll wake up in bed in the Sheraton hotel and we’ll still have the game to play.

“We knew we could defend, we knew we were disciplined enough but we didn’t know if we could go up the other end and score goals. We knew that would be our issue so we worked hard in training on simple things like converting breakaways when we are on the run.”

McMenemy hailed his team’s performance but admitted to being bewildered by the result.

“I came in here the other day and said I was proud of my boys, but I don’t know how we’ve done that,” he said.

“That was an incredible feat considering they are the Philippines and where they have come from. To go and turnover a powerhouse like Vietnam is incredible.

“We rode our luck throughout the game but I said to the guys at halftime: ‘You have to keep putting yourself in a position for good things to happen to you and you have to keep working hard’.

“If you keep working hard the luckier you get. We had three chances and scored twice. This won’t sink in for quite a while.”

Vietnam coach Henrique Calisto was angered by the nature of the Philippines’ win and was heavily critical of the style of play used by the Filipinos.

“Football is not this, football is not putting eight players in front of the area with no offensive system,” said the Portuguese coach. “They were fighting and I respect the players but if you think this is football then you are wrong.

“My way is different. You can play and lose but you can lose with honour. They put the bus in front of the goal and shoot, shoot, shoot and they pray. They didn’t have an offensive system.

“I told my players that the Philippines defend very well but they don’t care about counterattacking, they only pay attention in defence. Until you score one goal, our job is very difficult and I told the players that.

“If you look at possession of the ball, if you look at shots, if you look at crosses maybe there was 70 or 80 percent for Vietnam and 20 or 30 percent for Philippines.

“If they think they can win the championship based on that then poor football. If the Philippines think they can win playing that way then my dear, poor, poor football in this region.”

Coaches laud stunning Filipino win


JAKARTA: The after-effects of the Philippines’ stunning 2-0 win over defending champions Vietnam on Sunday are not being felt only in Hanoi. On Monday, the shock result was also a hot topic for officials and journalists gathered in Indonesia for the Group A matches in the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The Filipinos have been one of the tournament’s traditional whipping boys and they hold the record for the tournament’s heaviest defeat, a 13-1 thrashing by Indonesia in 2002. But having drawn 1-1 with three-time champions Singapore in their tournament opener, they now stand on the brink of the semi-finals after a resolute performance against the Vietnamese.

The general consensus in Jakarta was that their win against the Vietnamese was not undeserved.

Said Thailand coach Brian Robson: “I went to the tournament where the Philippines and Laos qualified for the finals and I was that you can’t underestimate any of those teams because they were well organised and they have had very good preparations where they’ve been together for three to four months.

“When teams are organised, you can’t dismiss them and the Philippines showed that last night in their victory against Vietnam.”

Having seen his side pegged back to a 2-2 draw by the Philippines in the qualifiers, after holding a two-goal lead, Laos coach David Booth was not surprised by the result.

“I thought that the Philippines were absolutely terrific and I thought that their discipline was absolutely superb,” the Englishman said.

For Indonesia coach Wolfgang Pikal, the result is yet another indication that the level of Filipino football is now very close to the top teams in the region.

“I think that the gap is very close,” the Austrian said. “The Philippines played very well last night. They have a lot of players playing abroad and they did their homework. I think they’re doing a good job because a few years ago, everyone was expecting them to be beaten easily.”

And Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal believes that the result is a positive development for the regional football tournament.

“You see that things have turned around in Asean football and I’m not surprised with the result,” he said. “The Philippines have got some good players from abroad in their side, just like Singapore, and they are now a very competitive team. Their win yesterday has boosted their standing and they are serious contenders to reach the semi-finals.

“You definitely cannot take any of teams in this tournament lightly anymore. That’s good because it make things much more exciting for everyone.

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