Historic milestone for Vietnam’s futsal team

Wednesday, 2016-02-24 18:00:39
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Vietnamese players burst out into happiness after securing an official place in the Futsal World Cup.
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NDO – Vietnam’s futsal team has made national football history, making it through to a World Cup event for the first time ever. This came as a result of strategic orientation and a process of radical development from an amateur football background.

>>> Beating Japan on penalties, Vietnam books first-ever place at Futsal World Cup

Surprise comes like a dream

The AFC Futsal Championship also functioned as qualification tournament for the 2016 World Cup, scheduled to be held in Colombia from September 10 to October 1, with the five World Cup slots granted to the four semifinalists and the winner of play-off matches, which gathered the four losers of the quarterfinals.

Drawn into a relatively easy group, the Vietnamese team not only targeted the quarterfinals but also looked towards securing a World Cup berth. But ahead of the tournament, head of the Vietnam futsal team Tran Anh Tu, coach Bruno Garcia, as well as players, only dared to dream of the fifth slot (through play-off matches). The door to the semifinal round was tight for Vietnam, with opponents Iran, Thailand, Japan and Uzbekistan superior in their qualifications and almost guaranteed to be semifinalists.  

However, surprises and shocks always happen in football, and Vietnam proved that to be true by knocking down three-time Asian champion Japan in the quarterfinals. The shocking 2-1 victory on penalties after a 4-4 draw in both official minutes of play and extra time was the most glorious triumph and the best match of Vietnam’s futsal team. It was the victory of a resilient competition spirit that helped Vietnam successfully reverse the situation after being led 2-0. It was the victory of an extremely rational tactic by Spanish coach Bruno Garcia – playing slow and solid in two thirds of the match to conserve power to deliver decisive blows at the end of the game. Two goals in the last six minutes of play helped Vietnam equalise 3-3 in two official halves despite lagging behind 1-3.

The surprising victory marked a big step forward in the history of Vietnamese football – winning the Futsal World Cup place through the front door instead of the side door as initially calculated. Focusing all energy on the game against Japan, as well as the dense group-stage competition schedule were the two major causes for Vietnam’s losses to powerhouses Iran and Thailand in the semifinal and third-place matches later.  

Victory never comes naturally

It is not wrong to say that securing a World Cup slot was a moment of sublimation of Vietnam’s futsal team, because in order to achieve this amazing result, Vietnam still has a lot of work to do at the moment, as the sport is still existing and growing strongly in the form of amateur tournaments. However, these achievements did not come naturally but came as a result of a process of serious and thorough preparation and a process of constant efforts over the past two years as noted by head of the Vietnamese team Tran Anh Tu.  

Realising Vietnam’s futsal team could make even greater progress after cruising to the quarterfinals of the 2014 AFC Futsal Championship in Ho Chi Minh City, those responsible for Vietnamese futsal, specifically head of the Vietnam Football Federation’s futsal department Tran Anh Tu, decided to intensify their investments in the sport. Tu used his own money to organise training courses for Vietnam’s futsal team in countries with advanced futsal, including Spain, Japan and Uzbekistan, in order to help players sharpen their skills and accumulate experience. For instance, ahead of the 2016 AFC Futsal finals, he spent VND350 million (US$15,750) to invite the Malaysian national team (a team progressing in recent time) to Ho Chi Minh City as a training partner for the Vietnamese team. In order to get used to the weather in Uzbekistan – the host country of the 2016 AFC Futsal Championship – Vietnam’s futsal team left for Uzbekistan nearly 15 days early and had two friendly matches with the host team and China. Regularly competing against strong teams helped Vietnam’s futsal players advance significantly in terms of both qualifications and international experience.

Intensive preparations drove Vietnam’s futsal team to make national football history, as well as world futsal history, with their first-ever ticket to play in the world’s largest futsal competition, the Futsal World Cup.