Vietnam News

Vietnam come good at long last with stunning victory over China PR

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Just last week, Vietnam became the first team eliminated from the third and final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup after suffering a 7th consecutive defeat of the campaign.

On Tuesday, with the pressure finally lifted, the Vietnamese produced the display many expected they were capable of as they claimed a superb 3-1 win over China PR at My Dinh National Stadium.

It was the Southeast Asian nation’s first-ever triumph over the Chinese, and ensures they will at least have a victory and three points to show for their efforts in their maiden appearance at this stage of World Cup qualifying.

Perhaps more importantly, the result could also prove that Vietnam remain on the right track under coach Park Hang-seo despite a series of disappointing results in the past 12 months.

Qualifying for the World Cup from a group consisting of continental heavyweights such as Japan, Saudi Arabia and Australia was always going to be bridge too far, but failure to pick up a point in their first seven matches of the third round of Asian qualifiers — even against the likes of Oman and China — did cause some eyebrows to be raised.

The results were far from embarrassing but Park nonetheless came under criticism for a perceived lack of adventure, especially given the Vietnamese entered the campaign with nothing much to lose.

But the pressure really mounted at the end of last year when Vietnam — looking to defend their Southeast Asian crown at AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 – were eliminated from the semifinals by eventual champions Thailand, with their surprising second-place finish in Group B behind Indonesia ultimately proving costly they had to meet their fellow joint-favourites earlier than expected.

Yet, with China also struggling for form, Tuesday’s tie did appear to be Vietnam’s best chance of picking up at least a first point of the campaign — and they duly delivered.

Right from the opening whistle, Park’s charges displayed increased levels of endeavour and intent, opening the scoring through Ho Tan Tai’s close-range header after nine minutes before Nguyen Tien Linh doubled their lead seven minutes later.

A speculative long-range effort by Phan Van Duc in the 76th minute then effectively put the result beyond doubt, although the Chinese did manage an injury-time consolation through a Xu Xin effort.

Despite the victory, Vietnam still need at least another positive result if they are to avoid a bottom-place finish, but they should certainly be gunning for that in their next match against Oman in March before finishing with a tough test against Japan.

Should they produce a couple of similarly enterprising performances then, it would certainly help the reinvigorate the mood ahead of their preparations for what will be a far more realistic target than qualifying for the World Cup — emulating their run to the quarterfinals at the last AFC Asian Cup when the tournament is held once again in China next year.

After the initial high of the Park Hang-seo era was tempered slightly by a series of disappointing results, Tuesday’s impressive victory was a timely reminder that Vietnam could still reinvent themselves and continue to have a bright future with the South Korean at the helm.

By Gabriel Tan – – February 2, 2022

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