MANILA, Philippines – Vietnam coach Phan Thanh Hung readily accepted the blame for his side's disappointing loss to the Philippines in their do-or-die Group A match in the AFF Suzuki Cup last Tuesday night in Bangkok, Thailand.
After being surprisingly held by Myanmar in their tournament opener, Vietnam needed a victory in order to fan their semi-final bid. The Azkals were in the same boat, having lost to Thailand in their first game.
In a repeat of 2010's shocking upset, the Azkals once again came out on top, winning 1-0 on an 85th minute goal from veteran striker Chieffy Caligdong.
In the post-match press conference, Thanh Hung expressed his disappointment with his squad’s performance.
"Our team today played the worst match since I became head coach," Thanh Hung said, as quoted by the tournament's official website.
"Before the game, the whole team had good preparation in the aspect of mentality, but when the match started, so many players froze and made wrong passes," he added.
Thanh Hung pointed out that Caligdong's goal "came from a wrong pass from one player."
Vietnam were more aggressive in the second half of the match but were constantly frustrated by the Philippines' solid defense.
The Azkals were able to dispossess Vietnam just a few minutes from time, and Angel Guirado fired a looping pass to Caligdong. After taking a brief moment to control the ball, "Chieffy" struck the lone goal of the match.
"They had a mass defense, and it was difficult to break it down,” Thanh Hung admitted. “We could not create any good chances or do anything that could turn the game."
But he stressed that his players "followed the tactics." "As head coach, I take responsibility for losing the game," Thanh Hung said.
In contrast, Azkals coach Michael Weiss was all praises for his team, even as he was forced to watch the match from the stands. Weiss was suspended because he threw a ball towards a Thai player in their first game.
"It was a fantastic performance, and we are back in the race. We now play a strong Myanmar side, and hopefully we can reach the semi-finals," Weiss said.