Just like the internationally acclaimed film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the second leg of AFF Suzuki Cup final that pits Malaysia and Vietnam in My Dinh Stadium, Hanoi, on Saturday is expected to keep fans on the edge of their seats as both one-time champions chase to lift their second title.
Safawi (left) and Nguyen Trong Hoang vie for the ball during the first leg of AFF Suzuki Cup final at Bukit Jalil Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, on Tuesday. Image: Lagardère Sports Asia
The first leg at the packed Bukit Jalil Stadium on Tuesday saw Vietnam gaining an edge via away goals following a 2-2 draw. The intense match saw Vietnam leading during the first half through goals from Nguen Huy Hung and a long-range strike from Pham Duc Huy.
The home squad fought back and Shahrul found the goal with a stunning header courtesy of Syamer Kutty Abba’s free kick in the 36th minute. Harimau Malaya then secured the equaliser in the 60th minute after Safawi Rasid’s free kick curled into the net, sending over 80,000 fans at the stadium into a roaring frenzy.
Rivalry between Harimau Malaya and the Golden Dragons goes back to the 2014 edition when Malaysia beat Vietnam 4-2 in the away leg of the semifinal after the first leg at Shah Alam Stadium ended in a 2-1 loss that saw Malaysian fans resorting to violence in the latter stages of the match. Malaysians were quick to apologise to their Vietnamese counterparts.
As the road to 2018 final nears the end, pundits believe Vietnam squad possess the youthful talent and energy to lift the trophy while Malaysia remain optimistic as history proved they have what it takes to win in Hanoi.
*anxiously waiting with bated breath*
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Hanoi from Kuala Lumpur. For details, visit airasia.com.