Odds stacked: Việt Nam team seen in the match with Chinese Taipei on March 24. They will meet Iraq in the final match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 Asian Cup joint qualifiers’ second qualifying round, held in Iran today. Photo laodong.com.vn
HÀ NỘI — Although the chances of Việt Nam reaching the final round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 Asian Cup joint qualifiers are slim, Việt Nam will try to beat Iraq in the final match of the event’s second qualifying round to be held in Iran today, according to Vietnamese coach Nguyễn Hữu Thắng.
Việt Nam’s 4-1 victory over Chinese Taipei on March 24 is a driving force for the team in their match with Iraq.
Meanwhile, Iraq has had a change in coaching. The team’s coach, Yahya Alwan, resigned following the 2-2 draw with Thailand on March 24. Abdul Ghani Shahad took charge of the Iraqi team.
Việt Nam now have seven points after five games, standing third in Group F. Thailand took the lead with 14 points. Iraq came second with nine points, whereas Chinese Taipei remained at the bottom with zero points.
The group winners and four best runners-up (12 teams total) will advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals and the final qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots plus one slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup.
If Iraq beat Việt Nam, the team will likely be one of four best runners-up to advance to the event’s next round.
If Việt Nam beat Iraq, the team will rank second in the group, but the chances of qualifying for the next round depend on many factors. Other group runners-up such as Oman, China and North Korea must lose for the Vietnamese team to advance.
Before the match takes place, players of the two teams will wear black bands on their arms and hold a moment of silence in memory of the recent terrorist bomb attack in Iraq on March 25.
To prepare for the match, Việt Nam were presented at Iran on Saturday. They had several light training sessions at their hotel and practised at the 8,000-seat Ghavamin Stadium yesterday. The match will be run by Australian coach Peter Green. — VNS