Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam have advantages and disadvantages in the race for a berth in the quarter-finals of the Asian Football Confederation U19 Championship, which is ongoing in Bahrain.
The Vietnamese side have become a phenomenon at the continental competition, after one win and one draw in Group B, which gathered powerhouses North Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq.
As top-placed Iraq claimed the first ticket to the last-eight stage, the remainder will belong to either Việt Nam, the second-ranked team, or the UAE, which are in third place.
Việt Nam are in a better position, as they need only one point during the last match tomorrow against Iraq, who may rest their best players for the next round. If the match ends with a draw, Việt Nam will advance no matter what happens in the other game.
Meanwhile, the UAE need to defeat North Korea and wait for a loss from Việt Nam.
However, there are difficulties awaiting the Southeast Asian side.
“We have an advantage to enter the quarters, but we will not have captain-midfielder Nguyễn Trọng Đại and defender Đoàn Văn Hậu in the last group round match. They are important players, so we need to work harder to fill the holes they leave,” said coach Hoàng Anh Tuấn of Việt Nam.
Đại received a red card in the 1-1 draw against the UAE on Monday, while Hậu, who scored the second goal for Việt Nam in their 2-1 win over North Korea last week, collected two yellow cards.
Tuấn’s ‘Fantastic Four’ now has only Hồ Tấn Tài and Huỳnh Tấn Sinh. It is expected that Nguyễn Hữu Lâm and Mạc Đức Việt Anh will replace the sidelined teammates tomorrow. Another possibility is that midfielder Bùi Tiến Dụng and striker Dương Văn Hào are also strong in defence.
Iraq is one of Asia’s top teams. They have triumphed six times in this tournament.
In the qualification round, they won all three games and score 11 goals.
In the group B, they defeated the UAE 1-0, as well as the last championship’s silver medalist, North Korea, 4-0.
“They are really strong with good physiques and skilful techniques, and seem more experienced than us,” Tuấn said about Iraq.
“But Việt Nam are not inferior to them. We have the chance in hand and we can decide our fate, although there are other factors which can affect our game.
“About the fined players, they are key parts of us, but other players can take charge of their duties. We will keep all eyes on the match and play with great determination. I believe that my players can make it.”
Casting his eyes on their next opponents, diminutive winger Hồ Minh Dĩ of Việt Nam is confident his team will produce the all-important results against Iraq, finally breaking the seemingly elusive wait to join Asia’s elite for the first time in their history.
“We want to compete, and it doesn’t matter who the opponents are. We go into every game wanting to win and it’s the same when we play Iraq. Our coach told us this was our best chance to go far,” said Dĩ, who opened the scoring in Việt Nam’s game against the UAE.
“Not many people gave us a chance in the match with North Korea, but we proved them wrong. We have a very good team here and we proved it again against UAE,” added Dĩ, who was one of the shortest players on the pitch.
“We are here to perform to our best and we fear no one.” — VNS