Huỳnh Như brace gives advantage to Việt Nam in Olympics qualifiers

April 06, 2023 - 15:24
The Women Warriors' coach, Mai Đức Chung, however, was not entirely impressed with his team's performance, citing mistakes made in defence.
Huỳnh Như (9, white) was instrumental in Việt Nam's big win against Nepal on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy of VFF

Anh Đức

KATHMANDU — The Việt Nam national women's football team gained a huge advantage after beating home side Nepal 5-1 in their first 2024 Summer Olympics qualifiers match on April 5.

The Women Warriors' coach, Mai Đức Chung, however, was not entirely impressed with his team's performance, citing mistakes made in defence.

Group C of the qualifiers' first round originally featured four teams until Palestine and Afghanistan withdrew.

This left the AFC to change the format to a two-legged round-robin between Việt Nam and Nepal, with both games being hosted at the Dasarath Stadium in Kathmandu. The team that comes out best will advance into the second round.

With a 67-place difference in the latest FIFA Women's Rankings, Việt Nam dominated from the get-go.

However, it was the hosts who got the first chance after a mishap in defence that put Amisha Karki through on goal with only the keeper Khổng Thị Hằng to beat.

Karki's shot, however, blazed over the bar to Hằng and teammates' relief.

Việt Nam replied two minutes later, when a wonderful cross from Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Dung met Nguyễn Thị Hải Yến, who headed into the top corner of Nepal's net and opened the scoring for Việt Nam.

In the 34th minute, Karki was again gifted with a golden opportunity after a blunder from Trần Thị Thu. Nepal's No 19 was again put in a 1-on-1 against the keeper, but Hằng brilliantly saved the shot.

Two minutes after Karki's miss, Việt Nam were given a penalty after Huỳnh Như's shot hit the arms of Samiksha Ghimire inside Nepal's penalty area.

The captain of Việt Nam, who is currently playing for Lank FC Vilaverdense in Portugal, successfully buried the spot kick and doubled the lead for the visitors.

Việt Nam found their third goal in the 38th minute, again thanks to the brilliance of 2018 Vietnamese Golden Ball Winner Tuyết Dung, who sprinted down the right wing and found Nguyễn Thị Bích Thuỳ free inside the box.

Thuỳ's shot deflected through a Nepal player's leg and went into Anilja Subba's net.

Huỳnh Như completed her brace in the 48th minute from a great backward header after Hoàng Thị Loan's great cross.

The Women Warriors took their foot off the gas after Như's goal, and Mai Đức Chung subbed off key players Hải Yến and Bích Thuỳ. These changes in mentality and tactics slowly gave Nepal momentum.

In the 79th minute, a mistake from centre-back Hoàng Thị Loan put Nepal on a counter-attack.

Sabitra Bhandari pounced past Diễm My and Trần Thị Thu and fired a powerful shot to beat Khổng Thị Hằng.

But the chance proved to be Nepal's best opportunity in the first half, as Chung's players regained concentration and even found their fifth goal with a 25-metre lob by Nguyễn Thị Thanh Nhã in the 91st minute to end the game 5-1.

With this result, Việt Nam holds a huge advantage before the second game on Saturday and are almost certain of qualification into the second round.

"Although the team won, there are still instances where we did not cooperate well," said coach Chung in the post-match press conference, "Five goals is relatively good, but we still have much to correct and look into for the next games." — VNS