|Sasikumar scored the decisive goal in the 1998 Tiger Cup final against Việt Nam to help Singapore won their first ever international title. File photo|
HÀ NỘI — A Singaporean football legend has said Việt Nam are no longer the underdogs of Southeast Asia.
R Sasikumar, who scored the only goal in the final of the 1998 Tiger Cup (the predecessor of the AFF Cup) versus Việt Nam, told e-newspaper Zing that the Vietnamese side have significantly improved in recent years.
“Việt Nam are no longer underdogs,” Sasikumar told Zing.
“Việt Nam are undoubtedly one of the most progressive teams in Southeast Asia.
“It would be great if two Southeast Asian teams can go to the next round. I hope Southeast Asian football can progress to a new level.
“The time when Việt Nam were always an underdog team is over. In this group, Việt Nam are the team that everyone wants to beat. The UAE will have to try and work hard to play offensively, but I believe Việt Nam can still win.
“Indonesia right now, they haven't won a single game yet. For the past 18 months, their domestic league has not been active. Many players have not played for more than a year,” said Sasikumar.
“When looking at the quality and the performance of Vietnamese and Indonesian players, you guys are definitely more likely to win,” he added.
Sasikumar's winner in the 1998 final secured his country's first-ever international trophy and propelled him to stardom.
Việt Nam have a great opportunity to compete in the final stage of the World Cup qualifiers for the first time in history as they lead Group G with 11 points after five matches, two points ahead of Malaysia.
The remaining matches in Group G will see Việt Nam face Indonesia, Malaysia and the UAE – the hosts of the group.
On May 31, the national team had a friendly match against Jordan which finished 1-1 after 90 minutes.
They will face Indonesia on June 7, Malaysia on June 11 and the UAE on June 15.
All the matches will take place at 11.45pm Việt Nam time. — VNS