Football Tribe SEA Editor
Liga 1 Indonesia giants PSM Makassar failed to make their home advantage count as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Philippine Football League side Kaya FC-Iloilo at the Gelora Bung Karno Madya Stadium, Jakarta, in yesterday’s AFC Cup ASEAN Zone group stage action. Bojan Hodak’s PSM played the majority of the match with 10 men and even took the lead first, however, Kaya showed their class and forced the points to be shared in the two teams’ third encounter in the past two AFC Cup editions.
Playing at a vacant Madya Stadium that was sealed off from the public as a security measure in the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, PSM were aiming for a win to improve their position within the Group H standings as the ASEAN Zone group stage approaches its half-way mark. However, the Juku Eja got off to the worst possible start after Dedi Gusmawan was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession in the 10th minute. Despite being a man down, PSM immediately piled on the pressure on Kaya, eventually shocking their Filipino counterparts in the 22nd minute. Yakob Sayuri’s through ball was well-seized by naturalized striker Osas Saha, with the Nigerian-born Indonesian firing off a shot that went beyond the grasps of Kaya goalie Louis Casas. However, once the second-half started, Kaya slowly grew into the game and took full control, before equalizing in the 50th minute – substitute Arnel Amita crossed the ball into the box, which was then met by a powerful header from Eric Giganto that defeated PSM goalkeeper Hilman Syah. Kaya thoroughly dominated the proceedings soon after in terms of possessions and shots, but PSM were not without their chances of their own. In the end, neither team found any winning breakthrough and the spoils were shared once the referee blew his whistle for full-time.
Elsewhere, V.League 1’s very own Ho Chi Minh City FC survived a frustrating encounter with Lao Premier League aces Lao Toyota FC in Vientiane, with Jung Hae-seong’s charges returning home with a 2-0 victory. Like the match between PSM and Kaya, this Group F encounter was played behind the closed doors of the New Laos National Stadium due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, and despite the absence of their supporters, Lao Toyota managed to perform admirably against their heavily fancied opponents. The combination of Nguyen Cong Phuong and Amido Balde made a mess out of the Lao Toyota defense, however, the latter’s poor finishing would mean that after the first 45, Lao Toyota were still well and alive in the game. Jung decided to replace the poorly-performing Balde with Nguyen Xuan Nam, a former SHB Vientiane player who had scored 15 times in the 2015 Lao Premier League. Xuan Nam repaid Jung’s trust in him excellently, breaking the deadlock in the 72nd minute after defeating Lao Toyota goalkeeper Soukthavy Soundala in a 1-on-1 situation. With Ho Chi Minh City cruising towards victory, Xuan Nam added the icing on the cake in the 90th minute, smashing a shot that went beyond Soundala’s reaches after receiving a well-timed cross from Pham Cong Hien, which seals the 2-0 win for the Vietnamese side.
Last but not least, yesterday’s AFC Cup action saw two Burmese sides taking on two Singaporean sides, with contrasting results. At the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, hosts Yangon United managed to eke out a 1-0 victory over Hougang United thanks to a late goal from Than Paing, with the win allowing Yangon to go neck-and-neck with Ho Chi Minh City over the leadership of Group F, with both teams having collected 7 points after 3 matches. Shan United, on the other hand, failed to follow in their compatriots’ footsteps as they were condemned to a 2-1 defeat at the Jurong West Stadium by Tampines Rovers. Second-half goals from Boris Kopitovic and Jordan Webb earns Tampines all three points, with Hein Phyo Win’s injury-time goal only acting as a mere consolation for Shan United. The win meant that Tampines are assuming full control of Group H with 7 points, with Kaya and PSM tailing behind them with 5 and 4 points respectively.
The AFC Cup ASEAN Zone group stage action continues today with matches from Group G, that sees Ceres-Negros of the Philippines hosting reigning Liga 1 Indonesia champions Bali United at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, while Vietnam’s Than Quang Ninh travel to Phnom Penh to take on Cambodian champions Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng.