|Vietnamese players seen in a practice in Hà Nội. They are preparing for the Asian Cup qualification next month in Tajikistan. Photo courtesy of VFF|
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese players are working hard to make their World Cup dream true, especially since North Korea recently decided to withdraw from Asian Cup qualification.
The Women’s Asian Cup in India in January-February 2022 is part of qualification for the 2023 World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The six best teams from the Asian Cup will qualify for the World Cup.
In FIFA's latest ranking, Việt Nam are No 32 in the world and No 6 in Asia behind Australia, Japan, North Korea, China and South Korea.
Without world No 11 North Korea at the Indian tournament, Việt Nam will have a better chance to secure one of the continental slots.
Their first task is winning the qualifier held in Tajikistan in September.
"Results in the Asian Cup qualifier will decide if we can advance to the final (and then World Cup). We are practising really hard in preparation for the tournament," said midfielder Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Dung.
After nearly one-month training in Hà Nội, coach Mai Đức Chung saw big changes in his team with the gathering of old and young, veteran and inexperienced players.
"We have focused on improving their physique under new fitness coach Cedric Roger. My players have shown positive changes, especially the injured ones," said Chung.
"Đặng Thị Mai and Lê Thị Thùy Trang are two fresh women of the team. They faced difficulty in the first days with the team but now have caught up.
"Two veterans Phạm Hoàng Quỳnh and Trần Thị Thùy Trang have returned after months of absence. They are older than the others but still work well."
Chung and the team also spent time to watch the Olympic football matches of Australia and Japan. Australia as a World Cup co-host have already taken a slot at the 2023 tournament while Japan will play Việt Nam at the coming Asian Cup.
Players who have just cancelled their training camp in Quảng Ninh Province because of worry about the COVID-19 pandemic will have several tests and friendly matches with local clubs this month before a short training course training in the UAE.
"Our plan will be based on what happens with the pandemic. We have also proposed arriving in the UAE earlier than the previous schedule and arranged friendly matches with teams from West Asia or Europe," said Chung.
At the September 13-25 qualifier, Việt Nam are in Group B with hosts Tajikistan, the Maldives and Afghanistan.
"We have not played them in the past and their real strength is unclear to us. Therefore we must have good preparation and focus on every single match for the best result," said Dung.
"We target the group's top place to advance to the finals, and will play well in the Indian event. I am confident that we will have chance to participate in the World Cup for the first time," said Dung who missed World Cup chances twice in play-off matches in 2015 and 2019.
The talented midfielder, who banged in two goals from two corner kicks in a match at the 2015 AFF Women’s Championship, wants to realise the World Cup dream not only for herself but also for coach Chung.
The 71-year-old recently told reporters that though he has grabbed a number of title and medals from regional and continental with both men's and women's teams and clubs, he now just wishes to enjoy a World Cup once in his career. VNS