Vietnam among best performers in first leg of World Cup Asian qualifiers

Monday, 2019-11-18 11:40:07
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Forward Nguyen Tien Linh (in red) scores a solitary goal to edge Vietnam past the UAE in their last Group G clash on November 14. (Photo: NDO/Tran Hai)
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NDO – The Vietnamese squad, coached by Park Hang-seo, were among the six best performers in the first leg of the 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers round two and are currently full of hope for a place in the final qualification tournament.

The 1-0 win against the United Arab Emirates on November 14 helped Vietnam attain the most points in the history of their participation in the World Cup qualifiers, nearly equaling the combined points of their previous two campaigns – seven points in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and four points in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers.

Park’s side are now dominant on top of Group G with 10 points after an unbeaten run of three wins and one draw, three points clear of regional archrivals Thailand and four points above the UAE, who had been deemed as the strongest in the group.

In particular, the Golden Dragons are only behind Group A winners Syria (12 points), Group B winners Australia (12) and Group F winners Japan (12), while standing on par with Group C winners Iraq and Group E winners Qatar (10), and even surpassing some other powers of Asian football, such as the Republic of Korea (8), Iran (6) or Saudi Arabia (8).

It was such a brilliant result that even the most optimistic Vietnamese fans did not dare to dream of it ahead of the campaign, despite the fact that their favourite team had previously won the 2018 AFF Cup and made the 2019 Asian Cup quarterfinals.

That amazing feat was attributed not only to the shining performance of forwards, such as Nguyen Quang Hai (scoring Vietnam’s solitary goal against Malaysia) and Nguyen Tien Linh (scoring Vietnam’s sole goal against the UAE), but also to the solidity of the Vietnamese team’s back line.

Under his dynasty, Park has been building up an extremely disciplined and solid defensive line. Vietnam were impressive in their defence, conceding just one goal after four matches of the first leg, only behind Japan (Group F) and the Republic of Korea (Group H), who have maintained a clean sheet so far.

If such amazing form is maintained, the goal of qualifying for the third round of the World Cup qualifiers for the first time is quite within the reach of Park Hang-seo’s Vietnamese side.

* Nguyen Tien Linh scores as Vietnam edge past 10-man UAE

* Asian media praises Vietnam’s emphatic win over UAE

* Park Hang-seo praises Tuan Anh and Tien Linh after Vietnam outplay UAE