dads

Vietnam World Cup qualifiers campaign better placed than Thailand

Created 23 October 2021
  • PDF
Editor Choice
dads
Share
(0 votes, average 0 out of 5)

Vietnam have lost four consecutive matches, yet their campaign carries more positives than arch-rival Thailand, who debuted in the final World Cup qualifying round in 2017.
Thailand (white) play Japan in final round of World Cup qualifiers in 2017. Photo by Asian Football Confederation

That year, when Thailand advanced to the final qualifying round for the first time in 16 years, they fared badly in their group matches, losing eight out of their 10 games and earning only two points from two draws.

Despite the final scoreline, Thailand’s performance had some redeeming features. The number of chances they created exceeded that of opponents they lost to. For example, in their game against Japan, Thailand had more shots on goal, but still lost 0-4 because their opponents were simply more accurate and lethal in their attacks, and the quality gap between the two teams was obvious.

Thailand (white) play Japan in final round of World Cup qualifiers in 2017. Photo by Asian Football Confederation

Thailand (white) play Japan in final round of World Cup qualifiers in 2017. Photo by Asian Football Confederation

Three days after the defeat, Thailand’s head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang was forced to resign. During his stint, he had helped Thailand win back-to-back AFF Cup titles in 2014 and 2016, a King’s Cup title and a SEA Games gold medal, before taking the team all the way to the final round of World Cup qualifiers.

Thailand haven’t won another title since. They were eliminated in the semifinals of AFF Cup 2018 and failed to make it past the second round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. They have replaced Kiatisuk with several foreign coaches but have not had much to show for it.

Thai fans are missing Kiatisuk and want him back. But he is currently the coach of Vietnam’s V. League club Hoang Anh Gia Lai.

"Many people want Kiatisuk to coach the Thailand national team again," Kaweesak Pornwattanawate of Thai news site Sanook told VnExpress.

Just as Kiatisuk did with Thailand, coach Park Hang-seo has recorded many achievements with Vietnam. However, there are those who say things can change if Vietnam go on to lose their remaining qualifier matches.

"If Vietnam lose all 10 games of the final round, the supporters have the right to question if the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) should part ways with Park," Asian football expert Gabe Tan told VnExpress.

Vietnam players celebrate a goal in the World Cup qualifiers against China on October 7, 2021. Photo by Vietnam Football Federation

Vietnam players celebrate a goal in the World Cup qualifiers against China on October 7, 2021. Photo by Vietnam Football Federation

Vietnam’s goal at the final round is similar to that of Thailand’s four years ago, which is to get at least one win under their belt. The best chance for Vietnam to do that is in their home games, where their psychological strength is boosted significantly. The Golden Dragons still have four home games left against Japan, Saudi Arabia, China and Oman.

Like Thailand, Vietnam have lost the first four games of the final round. The fans are starting to worry that the team will go down the same path as Vietnam’s Southeast Asian peer, and coach Park come under some pressure if that happens.

Some positives

Compared to Thailand, Vietnam’s performance in the first four games has been better. The team has created more chances, had more shots on goal and scored more goals. On average, Vietnam has scored a goal in every match while Thailand had just one goal in four matches.

Vietnam’s defense has also been more solid, facing 13 shots on their goal, compared to Thailand’s 21.

Ever since Park became Vietnam’s head coach, the players have improved immensely, not just in skills, but also in stamina and fighting spirit. In their qualifier matches, Thailand conceded goals after the 80th minute eight times. Vietnam has so far only conceded only one goal in that time period, showcasing more concentration and determination.

"I think Vietnam have a stronger fighting spirit than Thailand," Kaweesak said.

Coach Park has also used this chance to try new players and some of them have already proved their worth. Nguyen Hoang Duc, who was chosen to replace an injured Do Hung Dung, has become a key player in the midfield with his balanced offensive and defensive ability. Recently, right-back Ho Tan Tai put himself in the spotlight with his involvement in two goals in two recent games. Fans like having new faces in the team and Park is doing this well as he tries to achieve the goal of getting at least one victory.

"Vietnam are showing positive sparks in the final round. They always have worthy replacements for key positions. For instance, when Nguyen Cong Phuong couldn’t maintain his form, Nguyen Quang Hai filled the spot. After Nguyen Anh Duc retired, Nguyen Tien Linh stepped his game up as the main striker. When Doan Van Hau was injured, Nguyen Phong Hong Duy played well," Tan said.

Coach Park Hang-seo is trying to help Vietnam reach the goal, which is getting at least a win. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

Coach Park Hang-seo is trying to help Vietnam reach the goal in the final World Cup qualification round, which is getting at least a win. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

What Park has done, and is doing, will build up the next generation of players for the country even if Vietnam cannot achieve its World Cup qualifier goal.

He’s building a solid squad with a great balance between youth and experience, adding new talents in game after game and that will be his legacy irrespective of what happens next.

Meanwhile, Vietnam still have six games left and getting one win should not be an impossible task, observers say.

Gabe Tan noted: "The most important thing for Park right now is to adjust his tactics. Vietnam have played counter-attacking football against big teams but it was not effective. The team need to improve on keeping possession and playing offensively like they did against China and Oman. Let’s see if Park can do that."

Park hang-seo: the spark that keeps Vietnam’s football fire burning

Park Hang-seo's journey with Vietnam's football. Video by VnExpress/Tuan Viet


Source: VNE

Maybe You Also Interesting :

» Hydropower plants worsen central Vietnam flooding

A hydropower plant in Phu Yen opened its floodgates and released 4,000 to 9,000 cubic meters of water Tuesday, worsening floods in several areas.

» Hydropower plants open floodgates, contribute to central Vietnam floods

A downstream hydropower plant in Phu Yen discharged up to 9,000 m3/s for hours this week, worsening floods that has left at least four dead in the central...

» Hanoi launches first electric bus line

Hanoi launches its first electric bus line on Thursday, which would be integrated with other bus lines at the capital.