World Cup qualifiers: Vietnam ready for clash with Indonesia

Monday, 2021-06-07 09:22:25
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Vietnam (in white) beat Indonesia 3-1 away as the two sides meet in the second round of the 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers on October 15, 2019. (Photo: AFC)
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NDO – Tonight, Vietnam will resume the action in the second round of the 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers with a Group G clash against Indonesia. The match is of great significance to Park Hang-seo’s side in the race for a slot in the next stage of the World Cup qualifying campaign.

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In the build-up for the World Cup qualifiers, Vietnam had their forces tested in a friendly with Jordan on May 31 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Excluding some players who were resting due to injury, all the other members of the team were deployed during the match and played for about 45 minutes each. With reporters having been kept out to ensure the two teams’ information security, there was little known about Park’s tactics. However, the final 1-1 score did not prove too much because, for the Korean coach, it was just a test to review positions and design proper tactics against the upcoming Group G opponents.

Shortly ahead of their crucial clash with Indonesia, Vietnam received good news as three pillars of the team, including midfielder Tran Minh Vuong and centre backs Do Duy Manh and Tran Dinh Trong, have returned to normal training since May 30 and completed all the lessons set by the coaching staff. Defender Doan Van Hau and midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang have also recovered from injuries, providing Park with more choices in strengthening the resilience of the defensive line. In case of Van Hau not yet being ready, Nguyen Phong Hong Duy and Ho Tan Tai are quite capable of filling in the left back position.

The goalkeeper options have also been calculated carefully by Park. Despite the unexpected absence of first-choice Dang Van Lam, who is an F1 case of a teammate contracted with COVID-19 at J1 League club Cerezo Osaka, the Korean tactician still has quality backup plans in his hands with three other names, Bui Tan Truong, Nguyen Van Toan and Van Hoang. Of the three, the most likely choice to replace Dang Van Lam is Hanoi FC veteran keeper Bui Tan Truong thanks to this abundant competition experiences.

With the aim of rejuvenating the squad and building the subsequent forces for national team positions, Park named some promising U22 players who have been performing impressively in recent times for the World Cup qualifying campaign to the UAE. Most notably, midfielder Nguyen Hai Long is highly appreciated in terms of his mobility and tactical mindset. With the current forces, it can be said that Park is in possession of the strongest line-up of Vietnamese football at present.

One of Park’s concerns now is the option for midfield as veteran Do Hung Dung is unexpectedly missing due to injury. The Korean coach also has his own calculations with new faces, such as Nguyen Hoang Duc and Nguyen Hai Long, alongside popular names Nguyen Tuan Anh, Nguyen Quang Hai and Luong Xuan Truong. It is very likely that Luong Xuan Truong will be the first choice for central midfield, as great focus has been put on him in recent gatherings of the national team, in terms of both strengthening physical strength and improving battling capabilities. Park can even possibly use the duo of centre midfielders Xuan Truong – Tuan Anh, Minh Vuong or Hoang Duc to feed the ball to attacking spearheads Tien Linh, Van Toan, Cong Phuong and Duc Chinh. All four strikers are in stable form and will be properly used by the Korean coach at different periods of the match.

With careful preparations, Vietnam are confidently looking towards the full three points against Indonesia on Monday night. (Photo: VFF)

Under Park’s leadership, the Vietnamese players are in high mood and now ready for the new challenge to meet expectations from home fans, firstly the clash against Indonesia at Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai, later tonight.

Coach Shin Tae-yong’s men have ended a run of five consecutive defeats, with a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Thailand on Thursday, and are now highly determined to create stirs against Vietnam although their World Cup qualification hopes have long evaporated and chances of advancing to the next phase of AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers remain slender.

Playing an Indonesian side who now have growing confidence after their positive result against Thailand, tonight’s match promises not to be so easy for Park’s Vietnamese troops as the way in which they beat Indonesia 3-1 in Bali over 1.5 years ago.

Nearly 19 months since their most recent game in the World Cup Asian qualifiers, Vietnam return to action on Monday with their status as Group G leaders still intact, albeit with a narrower margin following the results of the previous matchday.

A victory against Indonesia tonight will be a must for Vietnam to widely open the door to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers, in the face of threats from the remaining two group opponents, Malaysia and the UAE, who are much tougher.

The clash against bottom-placed Indonesia takes place at a happy stomping ground for the Vietnamese, with their fans savouring sweet memories from two years earlier at Al Maktoum Stadium where Vietnam defeated Jordan in a penalty shootout to reach the 2019 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals, their first on foreign soil.

With the positive facts mentioned about, together with their thorough preparations in recent times, there are strong hopes that Park’s troops will overcome the Indonesian challenge in a fantastic manner, thus steering Vietnam closer to a first-ever slot in the last round of the World Cup Asian qualifiers.

Vietnam are leading Group G with two points clear.

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