In a no holds barred contest marked by frayed tempers, rough tackles, a dozen yellow cards and two reds, it came as no surprise that two second half penalties cancelled each other out and brought about an abrasive 1-1 draw between Chinese club side Hong Xian FC and Vietnam national U19s in Saturday’s second BIDC Cup match.
No one expected velvet gloves in this opening Group A tie, but few could have anticipated the second half chaos and the unruly scenes that marred a highly combative duel.
The first period was barren and action understandably limited and low key, considering the fact that the two sides had walked on to a sodden pitch that had taken nearly an hour’s soaking from heavy rain. The start of the match itself had been delayed by as many as 40 minutes for the ground staff to work on markings and the pitch to recover from the puddles.
The contest came to a boil in the last 15 minutes. A tackle by Vietnam’s Huynh Tan Tai on Zhang Wei Jun inside the box looked ghastly enough for referee Tuy Vichika of Cambodia to award a penalty for the Wuhan provincial champions. Huang Lei was bang on target with this 76th minute award, which spontaneously triggered passions in both camps.
Vietnam’s equaliser came in extra time, also via the penalty spot. Nguyen Thanh Hien converted the spotkick that came Vietnam’s way after Nguyen Xuan Nam was brought down inside the box by one of the two Hong Xian defenders going for him.
All along it had been a tough game for the referee and his assistants to call and control. Infringements on both sides were frequent and so were bookings.
But the worst for the officials came in the closing stages when a couple of players from both sides were involved in a fracas. There were abuses hurled, pushes and shoves. To add fuel to the fire, three coaching assistants from Hong Xian took an unusually aggressive approach of storming the pitch and engaging the officials in fierce arguments.
The three were ordered out of the arena even as tensions mounted in both camps.
The sides expectedly blamed each other for fomenting trouble. A minute into injury time Chai Lei picked up his second yellow and was forced to leave and two minutes later Zhang Xian got a straight red for lashing his foot out at the referee.
The honours were even and the points split but the Chinese side was left decidedly worse off, having lost two players to red cards and three team officials definitely facing touchline bans.
At the end of this feisty affair, a dozen yellow cards for unsporting behaviour had been dished out, with the six for each team making it look like both deserved equal share of the blame.
An official of the Football Federation of Cambodia, who claimed anonymity, said it was a poor advertisement for the game, stressing that the a report on the conduct of both teams would be placed before the Discipliary Committee of the AFC for further action.