Jakarta: The UAE were stretched into a shoot-out again but held their nerves to beat Vietnam 4-3 on penalties to clinch the bronze in men’s football at the 18th Asian Games at the Pakan Sari Stadium on Saturday. Both teams were locked 1-1 at the end of regulation time.
Later, South Korea defeated Japan 2-1 after extra time to claim the Asian Games gold.
UAE completed their sojourn at the Asian sporting extravaganza with their best-ever haul of 14 medals — three gold, six silver and five bronze.
Ahmad Al Hashmi put the UAE in the lead in the 17th minute, but the equaliser for Vietnam came in the 27th minute through Quyet Van Nguyen.
In the shoot-out, Al Hashmi, Zayed Al Ameri, Khaled Al Dhanhani, Shaheen Al Darmki were all on target for UAE while Thanh van Vu, Chinh Duc Ha, Duc van Phan scored for Vietnam.
The first quarter’s play was confined to a midfield duel. However in the 17th minute, a sudden outburst from Al Hashmi allowed UAE to get the breakthrough.
He made a defence splitting run after latching on to a measured touch from Husain Abdullah. There were four defenders swiftly converging on Al Hashmi but the striker managed to send in a measured grounder which settled into the net past a diving Vietnam goalkeeper Dung Bui Tien.
A pumped up UAE could have doubled the lead within minutes, but Abdullah’s effort from top of the box went wide.
Ten minutes later, van Nguyen put Vietnam on level terms by tapping home from close range after Huy Duc Pham triggered the move from the right. Duc Pham found Toan Van Nguye, who then set it for Thanh van Vu and though the latter’s shot was weak, it found an unmarked van Nguyen to score.
With UAE being going on the defensive, Vietnam could have gone ahead in the 29th minute, had defender Dung Bui Tien directed his header to perfection. After the change of ends, Vietnam had a better share of the ball were well kept at bay by a resilient UAE defence. Goalkeeper Mohammad Al Shamsi stood like a rock and was instrumental in making a couple of saves towards the end.
The match entered into shoot-out with no extra time and UAE were always going to have an upper hand here, following their previous two wins in a similar manner. The UAE needed penalties to see off Indonesia in the Round of 16 and DPR Korea in the quarter-finals.
The boys remained cool and kept slotting the ball home from the spot with ease. The pressure built on Vietnam as soon as van Nguyen shot wide on the second attempt. Goalkeeper Al Shamsi then blocked the fifth shot from Vuou Tran to trigger wild celebrations in the UAE camp.
UAE coach Maciej Skorza said: “The victory is well deserved after all the work the players have put in all throughout the tournament. The success have come despite teams only win against East Timor. Qualify for the knockout stage as the best third, the players have performed well against Indonesia and North Korea in the quarters. We lost to Japan in semis but the players agreed to give their all in the bronze medal match and they did just that.”
Skorza confirmed that the technical staff will have a meeting with the UAE FA in order to develop an appropriate programme for the next stage.
“It is very important especially as the qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will start in March. The team need to play a series of friendlies to get ready.”
Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min is set to be spared almost two years of military service after leading South Korea to Asian Games gold. The defending champions beat Japan 2-1 after extra time in steamy Cibinong, West Java as Lee Seung-woo and Hwang Hee-chan scored the goals that will allow 26-year-old Son to see out his new five-year deal with Spurs.