Vietnam earn first win at 2019 Asian Cup qualifying

Tuesday, 2017-09-05 21:44:04
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Vietnam players (in red) must go through a difficult game in Phnom Penh to earn three points against hosts Cambodia during their clash on late September 5. (Credit:
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NDO – Vietnam’s football team earned their first victory at the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup qualification on September 5 after beating hosts Cambodia 2-1 during their third Group C match in Phnom Penh.

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Thanks to two goals from Van Quyet and Quang Hai, Vietnam temporarily took the lead in Group C with 5 points after three played match, but Coach Mai Duc Chung’s players had to go through a hard 90 minutes at Olympic Stadium.

Vietnam faced a lot of pressure before the game as the team only ranked third after two draws against Afghanistan and Jordan. Cambodia were in second. Therefore, Vietnam needed to win the second place in order to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup finals.

The match was also the debut of Mai Duc Chung as the team’s new coach. He took on the task after former Coach Huu Thang resigned due to a poor performance at the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. Chung previously returned from SEA Games 29 victorious when helping the women's team earn the gold medal.

Half of the squad recruited this time was the U22 team who came from last SEA Games. Therefore, Cong Phuong, Xuan Truong and his teammates could not escape the “heavy” pressure after an unsuccessful campaign.

Cambodia started the game with a pressing play. However, the ability to control the ball in the midfield and the better physical status helped Vietnam win more possession of the ball.

Despite being forced to play with a low line, Vietnam suddenly had an early opener. In the 4th minute captain Van Quyet made a volley from the edge of the penalty area, defeating Cambodian goalkeeper Sou Yaty to open the scoring for the guests.

The early defeat forced Cambodia to strengthen the attack. It was also the time for Vietnam to make use of counterattacks to quell the hopes of the home team. In such a situation, Mai Duc Chung's team should have been able to widen the gap in the 9th minute, but Cong Phuong failed.

Worse yet, in the opposite counterattack after Cong Phuong’s chance, Cambodia ripped up the guests’ defense, putting striker Chan Vathanaka in the face of goalkeeper Van Lam, and the No. 11 player did not miss the opportunity to score the equaliser for Cambodia.

After equalising 1-1, Cambodia caused many difficulties for the Vietnamese defensive line, forcing Coach Mai Duc Chung to place Van Hoan on the field. With the good support of Hoang Thinh and Huy Hung, Vietnam defended well, but on the attacking front, the red shirts were ineffective. In the remainder of the first half, Vietnam created only one additional threat as Minh Tuan's free-kick hit the bar.

Unlike the first half, Vietnam formed a strong attack strategy in the second half, but due to the lack of creativity from the midfield, Mai Duc Chung's team did not create any opportunities. The helplessness was evident in the fact that long balls were frequently delivered from the wings and the guests usually used long shots from outside the penalty area.

Van Quyet played the highest position in regards to the attack, but Cong Phuong missed a range of opportunities. Therefore, Coach Mai Duc Chung decided to withdraw Phuong and replaced him with Mac Hong Quan. This option did not bring about a difference in the game.

However, another change from Chung when sending Quang Hai into the game showed his tact. Quang Hai, with a modest height, knew how to choose the right location and launched a dangerous header to the far corner, bringing a precious goal in the 81st minute.

In the remainder of the game, Cambodia put great pressure on the red shirts in the hope of equalising. However, goalkeeper Van Lam demonstrated his experience and perseverance with an amazing defense, which brought confidence to Vietnamese players. In the end, Vietnam walked away with a 2-1 win.

According to the schedule, Vietnam will host Cambodia in the second leg on October 10. If continue to overcome their opponents, Coach Mai Duc Chung’s players are sure to grasp the tickets for the 2019 Asian Cup finals.