It was a historical night for Kuala Lumpur City on Wednesday in the AFC Cup 2022 ASEAN Zonal Semi-finals in Vietnam after the City Boys showed the stuff they were made of, keeping favourites Viettel at bay in a scoreless draw following extra-time, before coming out tops in the sudden death penalty lottery, winning 6-5 after it was tied 4-4 in the mandatory shootout, and progress to the final on August 24, 2022 at home, meeting PSM Makassar of Indonesia once again, in a repeat of their Group H clash.
Only nine days earlier, the Red & White’s suffered their worst defeat since March 2019, but Bojan & Co. picked up the pieces and galvanised the squad to face the daunting challenge posed by The Red Tornado, who destroyed all past them during their group fixtures, finishing as the only team to win all their matches in the ASEAN zone and the scoring the most goals.
Speaking to members of the media, many of them from the local press who were shell-shocked with the outcome, Bojan had nothing but praise for his boys in shutting the door and containing the Vietnamese side.
“I said before (the) game, Viettel is one of the strongest teams in this region, but I think that we stopped them well, we blocked them completely and for 120 minutes, I think they only had 1 shot on goal. Our goalkeeper had only 1 save during 120 minutes and we blocked them completely”, he said.
While acknowledging the opponents strengths, the Croatian explained the factors leading to this momentous victory for the two-times ASEAN level champions in 1987 and 1989, when it was known as the ASEAN Champions’ Cup, back then a part of the AFC Asian Club Championship.
“I think that individually they are better than us but this team (KLC) has one (thing that is) fighting spirit, this is how we won the Malaysia Cup last year, this is how we entered (the) AFC (Cup), and this is how we come to so far. KL(C) is one, let’s say small club, and for us this is a huge result and we just hope our dream will continue and we will go further.”
The 51-year old tactician also revealed that despite not expecting the encounter to go all the way, they were ready for all eventualities.
“We didn’t expect to go to extra time, you must always be prepared, and we prepared for that. Penalties we practiced 3 days ago, there was lots of people here in Ho Chi Minh (City) that could (come) watch (us practice), (it was a) very open space, so they can watch (us practicing) penalties”, he said with a chuckle.
If there was any room for improvement for Bojan, it was upfront where the City Boys did not make good any of the few opportunities that came their way.
“But (the) only thing was (that) we didn’t use any chance, we had 2, 3 good counter-attacks. Their goalkeeper was also good, he made 1 excellent save. As I said also before it would be a very tough match and when comes to penalties, it’s a little bit luck.”
To read the match report of Viettel vs KL City on 10/8/2022 (AFC Cup), please click COMING SOON
To watch the highlights of Viettel vs KL City on 10/8/2022 (AFC Cup), please click https://youtu.be/Pic615Sh4rY
To watch the complete match of Viettel vs KL City on 10/8/2022 (AFC Cup), please click https://www.the-afc.com/en/club/afc_cup.html