An exciting year ahead for Vietnamese sports
After a difficult year, Vietnamese sports have a chance to bounce back at the many tournaments being held over the next 12 months -- fans will hope it was worth the wait.
|Vietnamese track-and-field athletes compete in the National Athletics Championship last month. The event aimed to hone skills and gain experience for athletes taking part in the upcoming SEA Games, to be held in Vietnam in May. Photo dantri.com.vn|
World Cup qualification
Following the unsuccessful AFF Cup campaign, Vietnamese football is preparing for the final qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup in Asia with two matches, against Australia on January 27 and China on February 1.
After six matches of Group B, Vietnam are yet to win a point. When his team lost 0-1 to Japan on November 11, coach Park Hang-seo admitted he has never found it so difficult to win a point in his career. The upcoming matches will be an opportunity for the Vietnamese team to try again.
While the possibility of winning points is low, fans' expectation is very high. In the first leg, Vietnam were completely impuissant against the superior Australian team. A better opportunity for points will be against China.
With the importance of the matches, along with the Lunar New Year, the upcoming games will be a football party that Vietnamese fans will look forward to.
|The Vietnamese team is training in preparation for the final qualifying games of the 2022 World Cup. — Photo baohagiang.vn|
31st SEA Games in Vietnam
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam couldn’t take place as originally planned in November 2021. The participating countries in the region all agreed to postpone until May 12 - 23. The tournament will be held in Hanoi and 11 neighbouring provinces.
The My Dinh National Stadium will be the venue for important events, including the opening and closing ceremonies.
The event has a total of 40 sports and 520 disciplines, of which Olympics sports account for two-thirds. Sports events such as football, diving, chess, handball, pencak silat, rowing, kickboxing and kurash will be played before the opening ceremony.
As hosts, and one of the leading countries in the region, Vietnam’s goal is to lead the medal tally. In addition to professional preparation, Vietnam will build a detailed plan to welcome thousands of international athletes safely and effectively in the context of COVID-19.
|The 31st SEA Games will be held in Hanoi and 11 neighbouring provinces in May 2022. VOV Photo|
For the U23 Vietnam men's football team, they aim to defend their gold medal. South Korean coach Park guided the team last time but since relinquished control to focus on leading the senior team.
The U23 team will also compete at the AFC U23 Asian Cup finals, held on June 1 - 19 in Uzbekistan.
After the 31st SEA Games, the 19th Asian Games (ASIAD), taking place in Hangzhou, China, on September 10 - 25. The event will have 40 sports and 482 categories, with e-sports included in the competition programme for the first time. Vietnamese athletes will have four months after the SEA Games to practice to prepare for this tournament.
Currently, 44/55 venues for the ASIAD have been completed and the pandemic situation in Hangzhou is also well controlled.
V.League 1 is back
The V. League 1 had to be postponed twice due to COVID-19 last season and was eventually cancelled. It was an unforgettable mark in the history of football in the country. Despite the best efforts of all involved, the league ground to a halt in October, without the winner, promotion or relegation, as well as no individual titles.
It is expected that the 2022 season will return in mid-February and end in November. This year’s season will only have 13 participating teams after Quang Ninh Coal temporarily withdrew due to lack of funds.
The participating teams are Hoang Anh Gia Lai, Viettel, Nam Dinh, Dong A Thanh Hoa, Becamex Binh Duong, Hanoi, SHB Da Nang, Hong Linh Ha Tinh, HCM City, Sai Gon, Hai Phong, Song Lam Nghe An, and Binh Dinh.
Regaining AFF Cup title
Just one year after the unsuccessful AFF Cup 2020, the Vietnamese team will be charged with reclaiming the championship.
Following consecutive successes over the years, defeat to Thailand in the semi-finals of the AFF Cup 2020 knocked Vietnam off their thrown. The team will be under great pressure to reassert themselves as the No 1 team in Southeast Asia.
Before the 2022 AFF Cup, Vietnam will have the benefit of experience gained in tournaments such as the final qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup in Asia, SEA Games 31, AFC U23 Asian Cup, ASIAD 19, and even the 2022 V.League 1.
The AFF Cup 2022 could also be the last hurrah for coach Park, whose contract expires shortly afterwards.
Source: Vietnam News
The COVID-19 pandemic is still hitting the world of sport hard but 2021 will always be remembered as a year of stunning "first times" for Vietnamese athletes, as well as a few moments of heartbreak for the nation.