Preview – 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers – Group G – Vietnam vs Malaysia

Vietnam highly favoured to win three points against Malayan Tigers

Wednesday, 2019-10-09 11:24:29
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Vietnam (pictured) are confidently looking towards the full three points against Malaysia.
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NDO – Vietnam will continue their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign on Thursday (Oct. 10) with the second Group G match, against Malaysia, at Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium. Inspired by a formidable head-to-head record, the Golden Dragons are highly confident to snatch the full three points from the Malayan Tigers in the first meeting between the two sides this year.

Vietnam were unexpectedly held to a goalless away draw by Thailand in their opening group fixture early last month, which leaves the reigning AFF champions with no option but to beat Malaysia to foster their hopes of advancing into the final round of the World Cup Asian qualifiers.

However, the three-point mission against Malaysia will not be easy to realise at all, especially with Tan Cheng Hoe’s troops currently aspiring to secure a win to solidify their progressing chance after earning just three points in the previous two matches against Indonesia (3-2) and the United Arab Emirates (1-2).

Despite holding an unbeaten record against Malaysia (W2 D1) in the last three meetings (all at the 2018 AFF Cup), Vietnam head coach Park Hang-seo still showed great caution while talking about the opponents.

“Malaysia are different from the way they were at the 2018 AFF Cup, with their attacking lineup becoming much sharper,” the Republic of Korea tactician told reporters in a recent interview.

Park’s caution is quite comprehensible as the Malayan Tigers’ current attacking power has been significantly strengthened with the presence of “assassin” duo Talaha and Ahmad. Despite his old age (33), Talaha still maintains an amazing level of fitness. Meanwhile, 24-year-old forward Syafiq Ahmad is emerging as a prolific “goal-hunter” of the Malaysian side at the moment. He got on the scoresheet in Malaysia’s last two World Cup qualifiers against Indonesia and the UAE. Most recently, Ahmad contributed a hat-trick and one assist to Malaysia’s 6-0 triumph in a friendly with Sri Lanka on October 5.

Syafiq Ahmad is considered the most notable player on the Malaysian side.

In addition, Tan Cheng Hoe possesses a duo of high-speed left and right midfielders, Sumareh and Safawi. It is likely that the 51-year-old tactician will name all of his four naturalised players in the starting squad against Vietnam this October 10, namely Matthew Davies, Corbin Ong, Brendan Gan (defenders) and Sumareh (midfielder).

As strong as Malaysia may become, it is Park Hang-seo’s Vietnamese side who grab the upper hand going into their Thursday meeting, owing to their home-field advantage and superior head-to-head record against the opponents.

The Golden Dragons left the Malayan Tigers with sad memories in last year’s AFF Cup, with the two sides clashing three times without a win for Tan Cheng Hoe and his players. Under the instruction of Park, Vietnam thrashed Malaysia 2-0 in the group stage before winning 3-2 on aggregate in the final (2-2 in first leg, 1-0 in second leg) to claim the long-awaited regional trophy. Noticeably, both of Vietnam’s victories were won at home, Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium. Given those facts, the Golden Dragons are highly favoured to continue with clinching the full three points against the Malaysian guests this Thursday.

With the return of Doan Van Hau (Heerenveen SC) from the Netherlands on Tuesday, Park has now gathered the full and strongest squad in hand. Undoubtedly, forward Nguyen Cong Phuong (Sint-Truidense) and midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai (Hanoi FC) remain the pillars in Vietnam’s attacking lineup. However, as a surprise-producing factor, Cong Phuong will again start the Malaysia clash on the bench, as in some previous matches. In that context, it is likely that forward Nguyen Van Toan will be Park’s top choice to ease the goal-scoring burden on Quang Hai.

With his speed, Van Toan is hoped to produce numerous difficulties for Malaysia's defensive line.

Malaysia’s back line in their 6-0 win over Sri Lanka was not very solid, lacking the needed cohesion when confronting the lightning attacks from the Sri Lankan side. This weak point of the Malayan Tigers will surely be thoroughly exploited by Park in the upcoming match. With the top ability to speed up in the Vietnamese squad, Van Toan is expected to break through Malaysia’s defensive line and create clear-cut opportunities for Vietnam.

Park Hang-seo’s side convened a closed training session on Oct. 8 to make tactical preparations for the important match against Malaysia, scheduled to take place at 8pm tomorrow.

* World Cup qualifiers: A test to affirm position of Vietnamese football

* Vietnam play out goalless draw against Thailand

* Park Hang-seo: “Malaysia now possess sharper attacks than at AFF Cup”

* Vietnam to convene closed training with Van Hau’s return

VAN TOAN