World Cup qualifiers - Preview: Vietnam look to repeat win against Malaysia

Friday, 2021-06-11 09:13:13
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Nguyen Quang Hai (in red) scores a superb goal as Vietnam beat Malaysia 1-0 in the first leg at Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium two years ago.
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NDO – Vietnam are looking to extend their unbeaten run in the second round of the 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers to seven games as they take on Malaysia in the penultimate game of Group G at Dubai’s Al-Maktoum Stadium (UAE) on June 11.

The Golden Star Warriors will head into the survival game with the Malayan Tigers tonight knowing that a victory will give them a solid chance of securing their maiden progression into the last round ahead of the closing game against UAE four days later.

Vietnam are displaying a striking form in the tournament with two draws and four victories after six matches, including Monday's 4-0 rout of eliminated Indonesia. Such brilliant results have helped Park Hang-seo’s side cement their place two points clear of the UAE at the summit and five points above Thailand and Malaysia.

When Vietnam met the Malayan Tigers in Hanoi back in 2019, Nguyen Quang Hai scored the only goal of the game, a result that started a streak of three wins in a row for the Vietnamese team, which put them on course for their current position.

However, things will certainly be not so easy for the AFF Cup champions tonight as they face a Malaysian side that is yearning for a win to keep their World Cup qualifying campaign alive.

Malaysia’s only game since the restart ended in heartbreak as they suffered a 4-0 defeat against the UAE, a result that undermined their two preceding wins and ended their hopes of finishing in top two. However, having played a game less than Thailand, coach Tan Cheng Hoe’s men could leap above the War Elephant with positive results in both of their two remaining games.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference on Thursday, the Malaysia coach spoke highly of the power of the Vietnamese squad, but affirmed his side’s determination to bag the full three points against Vietnam.

“My players have changed a lot since the latest match. They better adapt to the tactics and understand each other thanks to more training time. After all, this is the best opportunity for us to defeat Vietnam and foster the hopes of advancing. What’s important is that we must always stay focused.”

Regardless of Tan’s strong words, there is an undeniable fact that Park’s troops currently remain a mountain to climb for the Malayan Tigers. The Korean tactician is holding an overwhelming head-to-head record against his counterpart on the Malaysian side. Since taking charge of the Vietnamese team in 2017, Park has led the Golden Star Warriors to three wins and a draw in the last four meetings between the two sides.

Vietnam will welcome the return of veteran midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang for the Malaysia clash on June 11 evening.

Vietnam will enter their must-win clash tonight without the service of midfielders Nguyen Quang Hai and Nguyen Tuan Anh, two pillars in Park’s tactical scheme. Quang Hai has been suspended for the game following his two yellow cards, while Tuan Anh will also be missing due to an injury suffered in the previous match against Indonesia. Such absences are expected to affect the Vietnamese side’s playing style, but will cause little impact to the power of the team’s midfield, with Park still possessing many quality choices for the position, such as Luong Xuan Truong, Tran Minh Vuong, Nguyen Hoang Duc, Pham Duc Huy and Phan Van Duc. In particular, Vietnam will welcome the return of veteran midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang, who was recently hailed by the FIFA as a cornerstone figure in Park's largely young line-up. With his abundant experience, Hoang will surely add strength to Vietnam’s attacking power in their upcoming game with Malaysia.

Nguyen Tien Linh and Nguyen Cong Phuong are the two attacking spearheads in Park Hang-seo's Vietnamese line-up.

In the highest position, if favourite striker Nguyen Van Toan can’t make the squad tonight, in-form spearheads Nguyen Tien Linh and Nguyen Cong Phuong are ready to open Vietnam’s path to victory. Meanwhile, Que Ngoc Hai, Do Duy Manh, Doan Van Hau and Tran Dinh Trong will be the reliable choices to put up a “steel shield” in front of keeper Bui Tan Truong’s goal.

With psychology strongly boosted following a fairy-tale unbeaten run, especially their emphatic 4-0 rout of Indonesia on Monday, Vietnamese fans are hoping Park Hang-seo’s Golden Star Warriors will push for another brilliant display against Malaysia tonight, thus widely opening the door to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers.

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