Fantastic King’s Cup campaign sparks hopes for Vietnam’s future success

Wednesday, 2019-06-12 15:57:56
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The Vietnamese team claim silver medals at the 2019 King’s Cup in Thailand.
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NDO – Vietnam’s national squad recently underwent a successful King’s Cup in Thailand, seeing off the host team with a stoppage-time goal to again affirm their no. 1 position in Southeast Asia, and only missing out on the overall title to Curacao after a penalty shootout loss. Park Hang-seo’s tactical brilliance and his players’ convincing playstyle shown throughout the tournament have inspired a strong belief in further success for Vietnamese football in the near future.

>>> Anh Duc’s stoppage-time goal grabs win for Vietnam over Thailand

>>> Vietnam finish as runners-up at King’s Cup after shootout loss against Curacao

Park is proving himself as a master tactician by selecting players and using them wisely at appropriate moments during each game in accordance with the set tactics, which was also the “secret” to Vietnam’s convincing King’s Cup performance in Buriram.

Not having to wait until the King’s Cup 2019, in some previous international tournament Park’s man selection had initially caused controversy in public opinion, but then turned out to be reasonable and astute. Given just a few days to summon the national team for the tough ambition of declaring Vietnamese football’s dominancy in Southeast Asia, obviously Park could not risk putting out any experimental lineups, but continued to put faith in the players that he had understood as well as them understanding each other, based on a core set of players from two clubs, Hanoi FC and Hoang Anh Gia Lai.

Coach Park Hang-seo is lifting Vietnamese football to new heights.

Park’s controversial squad thoroughly comprehended and promptly captured the tactical intentions of the coaching staff, meeting the requirements whilst changing tactics and flexibly adapting to the reality on the field. He summoned veteran striker Nguyen Anh Duc back to the national team with expectations put on his acumen and goal-scoring fortune in decisive moments, and it was Anh Duc who scored a last-gasp goal in the dying minutes of the game to secure Vietnam a narrow 1-0 win over Thailand. Likewise, it was an excellent decision as Park fielded Luong Xuan Truong in the final five minutes, because immediately after coming onto the pitch, the midfielder took a corner for Anh Duc to head home the solitary goal of the game. In the final match where the Vietnamese side played on par with higher-rated Curacao, the Republic of Korea coach replaced Van Toan with Van Kien, who created a favourable assist for Duc Huy to equalise the score seven minutes from injury time. Those were clear evidence showing that Park Hang-seo’s wise man management contributed significantly to Vietnam’s success at the King’s Cup.

Looking back on their 2019 King’s Cup campaign, the Vietnamese national team, as assessed by both domestic and foreign media, demonstrated the amazing power of a leading football force in Southeast Asia. The Golden Dragons have no longer been obsessed by a losing record against Thailand. Park’s side displayed great confidence and played a dominant game, forcing the Thais to choose a brutal playing style and use many tricks, which worked to increase the position and power of Vietnam as the reigning Southeast Asian champions. Even when confronting Curacao, a higher-rated team with better fitness, physique and European-style skills, Park’s players still maintained the confidence needed and fought bravely until the last minute, equalising the score 1-1 and only conceding a close 4-5 defeat in a aleatory penalty shootout. It can be said that the King’s Cup offered an ideal chance for Park Hang-seo and the coaching staff to test tactics and review his favoured lineup, thus helping the Vietnamese team to precisely evaluate their power and real capabilities, with the 2022 World Cup qualifying matches coming up soon.

After the King’s Cup campaign, the Vietnam men’s national team added 3.9 points to their FIFA rating and will move up one notch to world no. 97 and 15th in Asia as next month’s world rankings are announced, regardless of the results of remaining FIFA friendly matches in June. By maintaining a place in Asia’s top 16, Park’s troops will be guaranteed a place in Pot Two for the second-round draw of the 2022 World Cup AFC qualifiers, which will help them to avoid clashes against strong opponents in Central Asia and West Asia, including Iraq, Syria, Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Oman, Kyrgyzstan and Jordan (or Palestine). There are strong hopes that Park Hang-seo and his players will continue to build on their recent feats to make the third round of the World Cup qualifiers for the first time, and further secure a berth in the largest football festival on the planet, thus meeting the expectations of home fans.