Việt Nam shocks Australia in U20 Asian Cup opening game

March 01, 2023 - 19:50

Nguyễn Quốc Việt's early strike was enough to grant Hoàng Anh Tuấn's Young Warriors a precious three points.


Nguyễn Quốc Việt celebraties his goal that brought home the win. — Photo AFC

Anh Đức

FERGANA — Việt Nam beat Australia by a goal to nil in their first match of the 2023 AFC U-20 Asian Cup Group B.

Nguyễn Quốc Việt's early strike was enough to grant Hoàng Anh Tuấn's Young Warriors a precious three points.

As this tournament is a qualifier for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in May, Australia brought their best players including Newcastle Jets' first-team regular Archie Goodwin. Players playing abroad such as Matthew Dench and Gabriel Popovic were also called up.

Although the Young Socceroos won all their matches in the qualifiers, historical results at youth levels show that Australia should not overlook the Young Warriors, especially with a significant boost in morale.

That boost came in the return of Hoàng Anh Tuấn, the manager who brought Việt Nam to the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, after reaching the semifinals of the 2016 AFC U-19 Championship.

"I am having the best Việt Nam U-20 squad ever," said Tuấn, "We respect Australia, but we knew their weaknesses."

And Tuấn did not bluff. Although on the back foot for the first few minutes, Việt Nam retaliated with deadly counters.

After snatching the ball from an Aussie player, Khuất Văn Khang cleverly found a through ball to Nguyễn Quốc Việt, who fired a powerful strike into Jack Warshawsky's net and put Việt Nam in the lead on the sixth minute.

Australia went on the attack straight after the goal, looking for an equaliser. Had it not been for Lê Nguyên Hoàng's timely clearances, Việt Nam might have conceded twice.

But it was not such a flawless match for the Vietnamese defence. In the 43rd minute, a miscommunication between keeper Cao Văn Bình and his centrebacks led to a dangerous opportunity for Australia. Bình was able to correct his mistake however by saving Gabriel Popovic's close-range header.

Việt Nam came close to doubling the lead in the final minute of the first half when Nguyễn Đức Phú found Nguyễn Thanh Nhàn free at the near post. Nhàn's header, however, was too easy for Warshawsky to save.

Việt Nam started the second half strongly with the lead in their hands, despite only holding on to 30 per cent of possession.

The men in red again got chances from deadly counters, but Thanh Nhàn and substitute Bùi Vĩ Hào could not capitalise.

Australia piled on the pressure in the final ten minutes, but could not pierce through Việt Nam's defence. The Young Socceroos' most dangerous chance was Nectarios Triantis' shot which went over the bar. Việt Nam successfully protected their slim lead, and the match ended 1-0.

With this result, Việt Nam claimed three precious points in the race for the top two spots to qualify for the quarterfinals. Hoàng Anh Tuấn's men will go through if they beat Qatar U20s on Saturday. — VNS