Southeast Asia Vietnam

ASEAN Quartet Clinch Zonal Semifinal Tickets

Malaysian duo Kedah Darul Aman and Kuala Lumpur City, Indonesia’s PSM Makassar, and Vietnam’s Viettel FC have clinched tickets to the 2022 AFC Cup ASEAN zonal semi-finals after Thursday’s final group stage games.

Viettel became the first ASEAN team to confirm their spot in the knockouts after an exciting win over Singapore’s Hougang United at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, with the Red Tornado prevailing 5-2.

Having gone 1-0 down in the 15th minute thanks to a Pedro Bortoluzo penalty, Viettel tied things up in the 41st minute with a penalty of their own, which was dispatched excellently by Pedro Paulo. Paulo then earned his side the lead in the 43rd minute with another penalty, before Hougang were awarded their own second penalty at the stroke of half-time, with Bortoluzo scoring once again.

With the first half ending in a 2-2 stalemate, the second half saw Viettel flying out of the traps and thrashing the Cheetahs without mercy, with Hoang Minh Nguyen Duc regaining the Red Tornado’s lead in the 55th minute, before a brace from Geovane Magno in the 70th and the 72nd minutes sealed the win for the Vietnamese giants.

The three points meant that Viettel were the only side in the ASEAN Zone to have won all three of their group stage games, sealing a spot in the knockouts at Hougang’s expense as Group I winners.

Viettel’s win also meant that PSM were through to the knockouts without having to play at all, with the Juku Eja‘s four points from two games essentially sealing the best runners-up spot for the ASEAN Zone. Bernardo Tavares’ men were then declared Group H winners by virtue of goal difference after Kuala Lumpur could only muster a 2-1 win over Singapore’s Tampines Rovers.

By prevailing over their rivals from across the Causeway, Kuala Lumpur have also sealed themselves a spot in the knockouts as the ASEAN Zone’s best runners-up, having a superior record compared to the second-placed teams in Groups G and I. This meant that Bali United’s 1-0 win over Kaya FC-Iloilo of the Philippines was rendered moot as both the Serdadu Tridatu and Group I runners-up Hougang have an inferior record compared to Kuala Lumpur from their matches.

It should be worth mentioning that since Group H only has three teams, calculations for the best runners-up omits the results made against the last-placed teams for Groups G and I, meaning that Bali United’s win over last-placed Kaya on Thursday and Hougang’s 5-1 demolition job of Laos’ Young Elephants back in June 27th were not put into consideration in determining the best runners-up of the ASEAN Zone.

The final spot in the ASEAN zonal semi-finals was contested between Kedah and Cambodia’s Visakha FC, with the former prevailing over the dark horses thanks to a resounding 5-1 win. Despite Mohammed Khan giving Visakha a shock lead in the 20th minute, the Cambodians’ fairy tale was ended cruelly after Mahmoud Al-Mardi scored a hat-trick and both Fayadh Zulkifli and Ronald Ngah scored one each for the Canaries, ensuring that Kedah would leapfrog both Bali United and Visakha into the Group G summit.

The last group stage game of this year’s ASEAN Zone was between Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Crown and Young Elephants, with the former winning 4-2 in a dead-rubber match as both teams had been eliminated after the second matches of the ASEAN Zone group stages.

PSM will host Kedah in their zonal semi-final on August 9th, while Kuala Lumpur travel to Viettel for their own semi-final clash on August 10th. Both matches will be played as a single-legged, winner-takes-all affair.