Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam face an anxious wait to see if they will qualify for the last 16 of the Asia Cup.
Coach Park Hang-seo knew nothing less than a victory against Yemen would have been good enough to see the Red Dragon’s progress into the knock-out stages.
At the Hazza Bin Zayed stadium, Việt Nam delivered, running out 2-0 winners.
But it wasn’t enough to ensure automatic qualification.
Việt Nam needed to win by three goals to make sure they were in the hat for the next round draw.
Now, although favourites to progress, Việt Nam must wait for other results in the competition to learn their fate.
The match against Yemen started a cagey affair, with both teams knowing what was at stake and how much they had to lose.
The opening exchanges saw few chances, but that was about to change on 38 minutes when a free kick was awarded on the edge of the Yemen box.
Nguyễn Quang Hải was the man who stepped up to take charge, and he beautifully curled a left foot effort past the hapless Salem Ali Al Harsh in the Yemen net.
Minutes after the opening goal, neat work from Nguyễn Phong Hồng Duy on the edge of the box saw his cheeky back heel create a good opportunity for Lương Xuân Trường but the midfielders volley dipped over the bar.
After the break, Việt Nam changed their formation. Knowing a win by three goals or more would be enough to secure a place in the knock-out stages, coach Park switched to three at the back allowing the full-backs more space to attack.
At first, the change seemed to give Yemen more possession, and they created some good half chances but the Việt Nam defence stood firm.
Just after the hour mark, the team in red had a glorious opportunity to double their lead.
As striker Phan Văn Đức charged into the Yemen area, defender Abdulaziz Al-Gumai clearly pulled the striker back to concede a penalty.
Up stepped captain Quế Ngọc Hải to give Việt Nam a two goal advantage with a coolly dispatched penalty sending Al Harsh the wrong way.
As the clocked ticked, Yemen continued to search for their first goal of the tournament but it wasn’t to be.
In the final stages, Việt Nam were forced to defend repeated corners but none threatened.
A victory by three goals would have been enough to see Việt Nam qualify, but as it stands Park’s team need to wait and see the outcome of other games played on today night.
They may well be favourites but their fate still rests in the hands of other teams. — VNS