Thousands celebrate Vietnam’s AFF Cup triumph over Malaysia

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Football fever gripped Vietnam again on Saturday night as thousands of fans flocked to the streets of the capital Hanoi to celebrate their country’s victory over Malaysia in the AFF Cup final.

Nguyen Anh Duc’s sixth minute volley secured a first regional title since 2008 for Vietnam and after the final whistle the streets around the My Dinh Stadium were soon teeming with flag-waving fans.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The supporters lit flares, waved national flags, blew vuvuzelas and honked car horns in a party atmosphere, a rare sight in the southeast Asian country but one seen three times this year after Vietnamese soccer success.

Similar celebrations occurred when Vietnam reached the final of the under-23 Asian Cup in January and again when they reached the semifinals of the Asian Games tournament in August.10

All three teams were coached by Park Hang-seo and his contribution was recognised by a number of South Korean flags carried by the revellers.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“It is truly wonderful,” Hanoi resident Vu Tong Tien told Reuters.

“We have so much to thank Mr Park Hang-seo for. Thank you Mr Park for bringing us this festive atmosphere and a success that the whole nation have been waiting for. Really, thank you, Mr Park Hang Seo.”

The feeling of affection is clearly mutual for the man some Vietnamese have dubbed the “wizard.”

“We got a lot of love from the Vietnamese people,” Park said in the post-match press conference.

“I really appreciate them and their amazing support. It really is an honour for me to receive that kind of huge support and love.”

Malaysia needed to score to have any hope of winning the title after a 2-2 draw in the opening leg in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Vietnam crowned Southeast Asia’s best, Malaysia defy expectations

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Ten years after winning their first AFF Suzuki Cup, Vietnam won a second on Saturday, turning the streets of Hanoi and Saigon red with delight as fans celebrated 3-2 aggregate victory over Malaysia.

In the end, Vietnam were just a little too good for their regional rivals over the two legs. And the same was true in the tournament overall. The Golden Stars were consistently the best team from the beginning — a 3-0 win over Laos — to the end, a 1-0 second leg victory over Malaysia.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Vietnam had stars such as Nguyen Quang Hai, the best player at the tournament, and capable of pulling the strings in attack at the tender age of 21. They had goalscorers, like Nguyen Anh Duc, whose early second leg volley in Hanoi did so much to deflate Malaysian hopes. After that it was always going to be be hard going. Vietnam also had the best defence in Southeast Asia with just four goals conceded in eight games, and the mighty Moscow-born Dang Van Lam in between the sticks.9

Most important of all, the tournament champions had Park Hang-seo on the sidelines — or “The Korean Hiddink.” After taking over the team in 2017, the South Korean has made what has always been a talented team harder to beat. His brand of counter-attacking football, balanced with a fitter and stronger team of players has worked. It is no surprise that he has reached hero status in the country and a documentary on his life that was released into nationwide theatres last week is going to be playing for some time to come.

It is the way it happened that really impressed however. Under Cheng Hoe, the team is attack-minded and aggressive. There is a defensive core set up with the central pairing working together well for the most part, flanked by exciting full-backs. Holding midfielders have performed with energy and intelligence with speedy and skilful wingers ready to run at defenders and get behind backlines. It has been exciting to watch.

And the nation has been excited and has put aside its recent frostiness to embrace the team with warmth, affection and passion. The nights at the Bukit Jalil with numerous attendances of over 80,000 with an atmosphere off the scale will be the enduring image of the tournament for many.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

For Malaysia, the challenge is to keep this fire burning, to allow it to grow and fuel a sustained rise to the top of Southeast Asian football. There is still much to be done but the start has been impressive and magnificent to watch.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 44 tie career high, shed taste of sour loss

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Giannis Antetokounmpo had not let Wednesday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers go when he took the court in Cleveland on Friday night.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Using his performance in Indianapolis as fuel, Antetokounmpo exploded for 44 points, tying his career high, to lift the Milwaukee Bucks past the Cleveland Cavaliers.10

“I think he’s a competitor — he wants to be great,” coach Mike Budenholzer said after the 114-102 victory. “Anytime he doesn’t meet the standards and expectations he sets for himself, the next game he is going to come out with a very aggressive mindset.”
Against the Pacers, Antetokounmpo scored just 12 points on a season-low seven shot attempts. Afterward, he sat for nearly 20 minutes in silence, staring at his phone and icing his feet and knees, reflecting on the game.

On Thursday afternoon, he slunk away from practice in Indianapolis and shut himself away to watch film with Budenholzer.

He showed up at Quicken Loans Arena early Friday night to get in an extended pregame workout. He was the first player ready to tip off and the first man in a Bucks uniform out on the court after the halftime break.

Against Cleveland, Antetokounmpo was looking to score from the get-go, scoring his first points off a dunk. With Khris Middleton (finger) and Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring soreness) out of Milwaukee’s lineup, Antetokounmpo played 38 minutes.

When Antetokounmpo rested in the third quarter, the Cavaliers were able to go on a 10-0 run to slice the Bucks’ once-commanding lead to seven points.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“It’s a game I had to put in the past,” Antetokounmpo said of Wednesday’s showing. “Today was a great win for us. We have to keep building, keep getting better.”

Pushes, scowls erupt in OKC rout of Chicago; cooler heads prevail

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An otherwise ho-hum blowout by the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Chicago Bulls became suddenly tense Monday night when a squabble spilled over into courtside fans and players and coaches tried to separate the teams.

It started with Russell Westbrook and Kris Dunn in the third quarter of the Thunder’s 121-96 win, as Westbrook and Dunn traded contact, to which Dunn responded with a shove. Thunder forward Jerami Grant then ran over and confronted Dunn and Bulls big men Robin Lopez and Bobby Portis arrived to interject. Lopez then lightly head-butted Grant as they spilled into the first row of courtside seats, and Grant pulled Lopez down into the fans.

“I’m just trying to get people out of the way,” Boylen said. “I saw [Grant] come across the court and into the pile. I have nothing against Grant. I’m just trying to get him out of the way. I could tell he was upset. I’m just trying to help, just trying to help guys. There’s no … as a coach, you’re kind of looking out for everybody. I’ve been in a couple of those before and you’re just trying to get people away.”buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Said Grant, when asked if he had an issue with Boylen grabbing him: “Trying to protect his team. Yeah. Pretty much it … it’s a scuffle. Stuff is going to happen.”9

It was an unusual scene with the potential to escalate into a bad situation, as Lopez was highly agitated and aggressively going after Grant, all while being right in front of the first row of fans.

“It felt like I got twisted and flipped a little by someone by that bench there,” Lopez said. “I don’t know. After that, something happened.“cheap nike nfl jerseys china

There were four technicals assessed for the tussle, two to each side — Westbrook and Grant, Dunn and Lopez.

“Man,” Westbrook said when asked if he was surprised to receive a technical. “Next question.”

Westbrook recorded his seventh triple-double of the season with 13 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists but was not interested in discussing the incident.

“Next question,” he said when asked about his reaction to Boylen’s grabbing Grant.

Boylen, who recently took over for Fred Hoiberg and made headlines with his practice approach and objective to reset the Bulls culture, said he liked to see his team not back down.

“That’s all we’ve been talking about is fighting for each other, and we talk about being a pack of wolves, man,” Boylen said. “I thought we had some of that. I liked the look in our guys’ eyes when that happened. It bonded them a little bit. That’s what we’ve been talking about. Those things are going to come up again, it happens in the league. I think we’ll be ready for it next time to handle it even better.”

Sam Darnold biggest reason Jets’ potential opening is attractive

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The New York Jets are expected to hire a new coach after the season, and that new coach will inherit a roster that needs major work on both sides of the ball, especially the offense. There’s a reason why they’ve won only 14 games in the past three seasons.

But they have a quarterback, and that will make the job attractive.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Unlike current coach Todd Bowles, who inherited the mistake-prone Geno Smith when he got the job in 2015, the next coach will start his tenure with a potential star in Sam Darnold. He won’t have to worry about signing a free-agent Band-Aid, and he won’t have to travel the country scouting pro days because his guy already is in the building.10

Darnold will be only 22 years old in 2019, having benefited from a season’s worth of experience and scar tissue — the battle wounds of an up-and-down rookie year. With proper coaching and an improved supporting cast, he should be so much better next season.

“Darnold is special,” Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson said after New York’s 29-22 loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday night. “You see it. He’s special, man. He kept us in the game, for sure.”

“Great performance,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien, a longtime quarterbacks guru, said of Darnold. “He has a great future in this league.”

Imagine if Darnold gets a wide receiver the caliber of Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins, or even someone close to that. Imagine if he gets Le’Veon Bell at running back. Imagine if Chris Herndon continues to develop at tight end. Imagine if the Jets can make a couple of upgrades on the offensive line.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

That’s a lot of imagination, underscoring how far the Jets (4-10) need to go before they’re a contender. Unfortunately for Bowles, he probably won’t be around to enjoy the fruits of a fully developed Darnold. It’s too bad, because Darnold has a chance to end the franchise’s decadeslong quarterback curse.

It wasn’t pretty, but for at least one more night, the Browns are still in the playoff hunt

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“Right now for these young guys in there, every game is important,” said interim coach Gregg Williams, who improved to 4-2 since he took over for Hue Jackson. “We’ve been playing each and every week like it’s a playoff. So they’re pretty experienced right now.”
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The Browns will need help on Sunday. According to ESPN Stats & Information, if Pittsburgh (vs. New England), Indianapolis (vs. Dallas) and Tennessee (at the New York Giants) all win, the Browns are eliminated from the postseason regardless.

Which means the Browns will be fans of the Patriots, Cowboys and Giants — they need only one of the three to win to stay alive heading into their Dec. 23 game against the Bengals.9

Saturday’s game was a struggle — for both teams. But the Browns got a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield and some big runs from Nick Chubb (100 yards on 20 carries) as they beat the Broncos for the first time since 1990.

“No, it definitely wasn’t our best game, starting with myself,” Mayfield said. “But coming out with a win on the road is hard. And we did that.”nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Mayfield was nowhere near as effective as he had been the previous four games, but when it mattered most, he came through. After a T.J. Carrie fourth-quarter interception, Mayfield hit Jarvis Landry for 12, Rashard Higgins for 16 and Landry again for 6 before he found Antonio Callaway for the 2-yard touchdown that provided the winning margin.

Denver would get a field goal to cut the lead to one, but Chubb broke a 40-yard run and the Browns were able to keep the ball until 1:49 remained. On fourth-and-1 from the 10, Williams bypassed a field goal attempt and went for the win, but Chubb was stopped for a 2-yard loss.

“The easy thing to say is yeah, you can kick a field goal and make them score a touchdown, but if you get the first down nobody is going to say a thing,” Mayfield said. “We’re aggressive.”

NFL draft: What will the Cardinals do with a near-certain top-3 pick?

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When Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks tried to pick out his roster’s most glaring holes recently, it took him a moment to settle on an answer.

“It is tough to say because there are so many areas that we can improve on,” Wilks said initially.

But Wilks was able to pick one.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I think the No. 1 thing is, when you have a franchise quarterback, as we do in Josh [Rosen], in my opinion, you have to do a great job of protecting him,” Wilks said. “I think it starts up front with the offensive line.”10

When it comes time for Wilks and general manager Steve Keim to take a deep dive into the roster following the franchise’s first 10-loss season since 2012, he’ll find a team riddled with holes — some gaping — and severe needs.

Fortunately for Wilks and Keim, the Cardinals will be picking at or near the top of this year’s NFL draft.

The Cardinals are currently projected to have the first overall pick in April, according to the ESPN NFL Football Power Index. If the season ended today, however, they’d own the No. 2 pick.

While fixing problems on the offensive line will be a must for the Cardinals this offseason, when it comes to the draft, they might be better suited to fix one of their other needs, ESPN NFL Insider Todd McShay said.

How many offensive linemen are worthy of being a top-five pick?nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“None,” McShay said. “I say that, but I also think you get to six or seven to 15 and I think there are two or three guys that are worthy of it.

“To me, if you’re taking a player on the offensive side with the first five picks you’re probably reaching a little bit because you have a need on that side of the ball.”

‘Elite’ football IQ allows hybrid safety Adrian Phillips to thrive on Chargers

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On a star-studded defense that includes the likes of Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Melvin Ingram and Casey Hayward, a little-known safety for the Los Angeles Chargers could be the key cog that helps slow down an explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense led by Patrick Mahomes.

Versatile safety Adrian Phillips’ unique skill set allows the Chargers to play a smaller, speedier personnel group that helps contain potent passing games, yet still holds up against the run.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said Phillips is one of the most cerebral players that he has coached — high praise considering that group includes Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Derrick Brooks.

That intelligence allows the University of Texas product to play several positions on the field.9

On Thursday, the Chargers will need Phillips and the rest of the defense to help slow down a Kansas City offense that has recorded a league-high 87 explosive plays (runs of 16-plus yards or passing plays of 20-plus yards).

“First of all, he’s extremely intelligent,” Bradley said. “He can play strong safety, free safety, dime [linebacker] and nickel [linebacker] for us, and we’d feel extremely comfortable if he was in any of those positions.

“So that intelligence, he’s got a football IQ that is, to say compare him to anybody, he’s just one of the most elite guys in that area that I’ve ever been around.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Phillips, 26, got an opportunity to play last year because injuries at linebacker forced Bradley to think out of the box, using a 5-foot-11, 210-pound backup safety as a linebacker in obvious passing situations.

By happenstance the Chargers turned a weakness into a strength, creating a hybrid safety-linebacker in Phillips.

The fourth-year pro has totaled 63 combined tackles, eight pass breakups and an interception in 474 defensive snaps this season.

“When I sit back and think about where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, it’s just all been a blessing,” Phillips said. “It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t smooth sailing. There were a lot of nights that I was frustrated and trying to find my way.

“But to be where I’m at now, I wouldn’t change any of that because it made me the player and person I am now.”

Atlanta MLS Cup winners Larentowicz, Parkhurst exposed ahead of expansion draft

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Major League Soccer’s expansion draft takes place on Tuesday ahead of FC Cincinnati joining the league for the 2019 season, and teams around the league submitted their lists of protected players on Monday.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Recently crowned MLS Cup champion Atlanta United has a pair of high-profile players available in captain Michael Parkhurst and centre-back partner Jeff Larentowicz, the former being out of contract and negotiating with the Five Stripes.

Elsewhere in the league, there are a handful of big names — who’ve either had their options declined or are out of contract — who are available for FC Cincinnati to select: Colorado Rapids designated player Shkelzen Gashi, former LAFC midfielder Benny Feilhaber, Orlando City playmaker Sacha Kljestan and Portland Timbers centre-back and MLS Cup finalist (and 2015 winner) Liam Ridgewell, among others.10

Of course, Cincinnati will have to weigh up whether the hefty salaries of those noted above are worth taking.

Every club can protect 11 players from its senior, supplemental and reserve rosters, exposing the remainder of its squad to be selected by Cincinnati.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal The expansion side may choose up to five players in the draft, and no more than one from each club.

Those who had players selected by LAFC in last year’s expansion draft are exempt — the Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, the San Jose Earthquakes, Columbus Crew and Toronto FC — leaving 18 clubs vulnerable to losing a player to the process.

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku: I had to lose muscle after World Cup

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But after scoring twice in his last two starts, the 25-year-old said a plan to lose some of the muscle gained at the World Cup was part of a process to get back to top form.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“It was at the World Cup,” he said after scoring his sixth goal of the season in the 4-1 win over Fulham.

“I just felt great and I think I played great over there, and then when I came back it is a different type of style.

“In the Premier League, I cannot play with the same amount of muscle as international football. That was something that, when I came back, I knew straight away: ‘Nah, nah, I cannot play in this style like this.’9

“I had to lose muscle, basically. So you just stay out of the gym, drink a lot of water, and a lot of veg and fish and it helps.”

Lukaku was dropped for the 2-1 win over his former club Everton in October after going eight games without a goal, and was left on the bench for the recent 2-2 draw with Arsenal.

“Me and the manager [Jose Mourinho] had good conversations in the last couple of days, where really he told me what he wanted from me,” Lukaku said.

“I know from my side I have to do better, and I just keep looking forward and improving, trying to add to my game and help the team to win.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“I played with not enough aggression, I think. I think I played with intensity like everybody else did [against Fulham].

“For me, I was happy to play at a decent level again and now it’s all about improving and continuing on a consistent basis.”

Lukaku said he had been “a bit tired” after the World Cup, adding: “I had the same thing in 2014 after the World Cup when I came back to Everton, I was really in a slump.