Football: National team to play six World Cup qualifying matches in 2019

Tuesday, 2019-04-02 17:12:56
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The national squad will play six 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in 2019. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)
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NDO – The Vietnamese national team are expected to plays six matches under the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying from September to November this year.

>>> Vietnam invited to participate in Thailand’s King’s Cup 2019

According to the recently announced World Cup qualifying process for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), 12 ranked teams from 35th to 46th (according to their FIFA rankings) in Asia will have to play in the first qualifying round to select the best six teams to progress to the second round.

The six first round winners will join the 34 strongest Asian teams to play the second qualifying round. In this round, the 40 teams will be divided into eight groups of five teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The eight group winners and the four best group runners-up will advance to the third round of FIFA World Cup qualification as well as qualify for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup finals.

With the current FIFA rankings of 99th and 16th in the AFC, Vietnam are projected to play a total of eight second-round qualifying matches, including six expected matches in 2019 and two others in 2020.

It is expected that coach of Park Hang-seo’s side will gather at the end of May 2019, before joining the King’s Cup international tournament in Thailand from June 5 to 8, aiming to help the teams hone their skills before officially kicking-off their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaigns.

Coach Park Hang-seo (far left) will have about four hard months with both the national team and the U22s squad. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)

The 2019 King’s Cup features the participation of four international teams, namely hosts Thailand, Vietnam, El Salvador and India. The four participants will be divided into two pairs according to their FIFA rankings, with the winners of each pair progressing to the final clash. The two losing teams will meet in the third-place playoff.

With the rankings of 73rd, El Salvador are to face Vietnam in the first round of the 2019 King’s Cup. The team from the CONCACAF have attended the FIFA World Cup twice in 1970 and 1982. With lower rankings, India and hosts Thailand will play each other in the remaining first-round clash.

According to the 2019 King’s Cup schedule, the Vietnamese team will meet El Salvador at 4:30 pm on June 5 (local time). The final match will take place at 7:30 pm on June 8, while the third match is scheduled three hours earlier.

After the Thai tournament, the period from mid-August to the end of 2019 will be a hard time for coach Park Hang-seo as he has to concurrently manage two teams. As soon as the national senior team finished their 6th World Cup qualifier match on November 19, Park will join Vietnam U22s team to prepare for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, scheduled to kick off at the end of November, with the goal of winning the gold medal.