Kiatisuk pleased with HAGL’s show in AFC Champions League return

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Coach Kiatisuk Senamuang appreciates his team’s performance against powerhouse Yokohama Marinos on Saturday, despite the loss. Photo of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai FC

HCM CITY — Despite the loss, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai’s head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang was satisfied with his team’s performance in their return to the AFC Champions League on Saturday in HCM City.

Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) lost 2-1 to Yokohama F Marinos in the opening match of Group H at the Thống Nhất Stadium.

Yokohama FM’s Brazilian Leo Ceara scored twice in the first half on 19 and 25 minutes, before his skipper Takuya Kida put through his own net in the 31st minute.

Speaking at the post-match briefing, Kiatisuk said: “It is our first match after 17 years at the AFC Champions League. I told my players to play their best against one of Asia’s strongest teams and strictly follow our tactics.

“Yokohama Marinos are a very technical team and it was difficult to manage my side while they were on the pitch.

“However, credit to my players as they kept trying despite going 2-0 down but Yokohama are a very strong team.”

The Thai legend said he was happy as HAGL created several chances and if they were luckier, they could have taken something from the game.

Kiatisuk praised striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn who did not have the chance to compete in the national team recently.

“I told him I would give him a place so that he could show his ability,” the coach said.

“And he did a really good job. He ran a lot today. He could not score a goal but created a lot of problems for Yokohama’s defence.”

Meanwhile striker Nguyễn Công Phượng said his team should have gotten at least a point from the match.

“We spent a lot of time practising free kicks,” he said. “Yokohama’s two goals came from a free kick and a corner kick. In football, we could not say anything but accept the fact.

“The result reflects the different levels between Japanese and Vietnamese clubs. But HAGL tried hard and personally, I think we deserved to have a 2-2 draw instead of a defeat.

“We were at home and received strong support. We were determined, united, and played well against Yokohama.”

Yokohama coach Kevin Muscat hailed his players saying it was a very difficult game with a fantastic atmosphere made up by home fans.

His team were very pleased to start with a victory, but he said the Vietnamese side’s determination showed there were no easy matches in the AFC Champions League. All teams were here on merit and Yokohama had to work hard.

In the next fixture on Tuesday, Kiatisuk’s side will face Sydney FC who tied two-time winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 0-0 on Saturday.

“We still have five matches to play and now, it is about getting the team ready for Sydney,” said Kiatisuk.

Meanwhile, Yokohama play Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea in the later game, also at Thống Nhất. — VNS

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