HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam will face five-time Futsal World Cup winners Brazil in this year's tournament in Lithuania.
The Southeast Asian team were placed in Group D alongside futsal royalty Brazil, Panama and the Czech Republic during a draw held on Monday in Zurich.
A total of 24 teams in six groups will compete in the tournament in September. The two best teams of each group and the top four third-placed sides will go through to the knockout rounds.
"Group D is not too difficult but also not an easy one. If there are no surprises, Brazil will take top place. Việt Nam will vie with the other two for a berth in the last eight," said Trần Anh Tú, head of the Việt Nam Football Federation's Futsal Department.
"The Czech Republic are really strong. We need one point from them. Meanwhile, we must beat Panama who are similar to Guatemala (who lost to Việt Nam in the previous World Cup group stage). We hope we can repeat our fairy tale from five years ago," Tú said.
World No 43 Việt Nam will face Brazil, No 2, on September 13, then Panama, No 37, on September 16 and finally the Czech side, No 16, three days later.
Head coach Phạm Minh Giang said it would be a tough task for Việt Nam to get out of the group and detailed planning was required.
"Brazil and the Czech Republic are powerful. The former are five-time champions. The latter just eliminated powerhouses Italy in the European qualifier. Only Panama are the same level as Việt Nam," said Giang.
"We will play on the counter-attack and defend our goal as best as we can and minimise goal conceded from Brazil and the Czechs. It would be great to earn one point against the Czech Republic.
"We must beat Panama with the maximum possible score to be among the top four third-placed teams who will advance to the next round. My first act is to research them carefully and then produce suitable tactics. As I regularly watch competitions, Panama are home to quality players but they lack team spirit," he said.
Brazil have played in every World Cup and won the tournament three times in a row in 1989, 1992 and 1996. Their two other crowns were in 2008 and 2012.
Brazil have played Việt Nam twice. The Vietnamese came out on to 3-2 in the HCM City International Futsal Tournament in 2013 but Brazil cruised to an 8-1 win at the Grand Prix a year later.
It will be the third World Cup for Panama. They advanced to the quarter-finals in their debut in 2012 and four years later, they went out in the group stages.
The Czech Republic will compete in their fourth World Cup this September. Previously, they played in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Việt Nam secured their first World Cup berth in 2016 and reached the quarter-finals in Colombia, losing to eventual silver medal winners Russia.
Giang and his players are in quarantine in HCM City now after returning home from the World Cup playoff in the UAE where they defeated Lebanon to advance.
After that, they will prepare for the tournament and will have a training camp in Spain if the COVID-19 pandemic is under control in August.
The World Cup will be held in Kaunas, Vilnius and Klaipeda from September 12 with the final set to be played at Kaunas Arena on October 3. VNS