Vietnam secure first point in 2019 Asian Cup qualification

Wednesday, 2017-03-29 12:20:34
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Vietnamese players celebrate Van Toan's goal.
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NDO—Vietnam got off to an acceptable start to the third qualifying round for the 2019 Asian Cup as they held Afghanistan to a 1-1 draw in their Group C opener at Tajikistan’s Pamir Stadium on March 28.

Neither team could field its strongest lineup, with Afghanistan lacking captain midfielder Faysal Shayesteh and Vietnam missing the service of midfield duo Van Thang and Trong Hoang, as well as goalkeeper Van Lam, all due to injuries.

The prudence of the two sides’ playing styles led the first half to proceed at a slow pace and see few scoring opportunities emerge.

Vietnam enjoyed the most concrete chance to break the deadlock before the interval as captain Thanh Trung’s cunning left-footed free kick from 30 metres in injury time forced Afghan keeper Ovays Azizi to work hard for a rescue.

In the second half, Vietnam coach Nguyen Huu Thang put striker Van Toan onto the field seeking to strengthen the white-coloured team’s attack power.

The adjustment immediately proved to be a wise choice, as substitute Van Toan, with his activeness and aggression, contributed to creating two consecutive opportunities for Vietnam after just five minutes appearance, one of which was successfully converted into the opener.

In the 62nd minute, Van Toan stole the ball from Afghan defender Mohammad and produced a cross for Cong Phuong, whose strike afterwards failed to beat goalie Azizi.

Two minutes later, Azizi carelessly dropped the ball after Cong Phuong’s beautiful freekick, allowing Van Toan to open the scoring at ease with a close-range touch into the unguarded net.

However, Vietnam’s joy was short-lived, as Hassan Amin made it 1-1 for Afghanistan just five minutes after the opener with a powerful rocket from the edge of the box.

In the remainder of the match, Vietnam continued to change their lineup, but failed to reclaim their advantage before the final whistle.

With one point gained as a result of the draw, Vietnam temporarily stood at second position in Group C, behind leaders Jordan who crushed Cambodia by seven straight goals in the other group encounter.

The third round of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers sees 24 teams competing in six groups of four. The teams are playing in a two-leg group-stage round-robin tournament to decide the top two performers of each group who will advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

Next up for Vietnam will be a home clash against Jordan on June 13.