|The future looks promising for young centre-back Nguyễn Thanh Bình (14), who became the first Vietnamese player to score against giants Japan. AFP/VNA Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam's 2022 World Cup journey has come to an end, but the records set by Park Hang-seo’s men means they can hold their heads high.
Nguyễn Thanh Bình’s only goal helped Việt Nam become the first Southeast Asian team to score and draw with Japan at a World Cup qualifying match.
Japan has played 19 matches against Southeast Asian opponents in World Cup qualifying round history, including the match against Việt Nam on March 29. In the previous 18 matches, Japan won 16 and drew only two. Both of these draws were 0-0, against Indonesia in 1989 and Singapore in 2015.
For the 22-year-old Bình, the goal in the 19th minute made the young defender the first Vietnamese player in history to score a goal against Japan, as Việt Nam’s only goal against Japan before this match in the group stage of the 2007 Asian Cup was an own goal by Keita Suzuki.
After 10 matches, Bình’s goal brought the team's total goals in the final qualifying round to eight, a new record for the region.
Previously, in the third qualifying round of the 2018 World Cup, Thailand scored only 6 goals. The Thai team also conceded 24 goals, leaving them with a goal difference of -18. The Golden Star Warriors only conceded 19 goals, leaving them with a goal difference of -11.
The 1-1 draw against the 23rd ranked team in the world also helped Việt Nam get an additional 7.37 points on the FIFA world rankings. Park Hang-seo’s team are expected to have 1215.38 points in total, securing their place in the world's top 98 and number 1 in Southeast Asia.
Despite certain successes, coach Park insists Vietnamese football take advantage of the historic milestone as a boon for the future, instead of resting on their laurels.
“After this journey, Vietnamese football needs to take advantage to get better results later without wasting any time,” Park said.
“First of all, I must be frank that it is not good for the team to end the tournament with only one win, one draw and eight losses. But this is still a meaningful experience as we always tried to get a better result after each match.
“It’s good to have a draw on Japan’s home turf. I want to thank the players for their efforts. There were also a lot of Vietnamese fans coming to cheer and support us to play with the pride and spirit of the Vietnamese people.
“However, I have worked in Việt Nam for five years and realise that Vietnamese football still has a lot to improve.
“Today, it is true that we drew with Japan, but Vietnamese football still does not have enough facilities or technical infrastructure which I believe will certainly improve in the future.
“Four more years until the next World Cup, I don't know if I will still work here or not, but with or without me, Vietnamese players need to have more experience playing on big football stages like this.
“To do that, Vietnamese football must have a system to support players reaching their best potential.” VNS