Vietnam's journey to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will begin in less than two months, with some familiar opponents in store.
Vietnam are expected to shine at the second round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. (Photo: vietnamnet.vn)
The team have been drawn in group G for the second qualifying round with regional rivals Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as group favourites the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The draw presents an opportunity to progress to the next round as while the UAE are a cut above, the other four teams are of a similar skill level.
The UAE, the hosts of the AFC Asian Cup 2019, beat Australia in the quarter-finals to make it into the top four teams in the continent, but Vietnam have a good recent record against the Western Asian team, only losing on penalties in the third-place playoff match of the 2018 Asian Games.
The side Vietnam should also be confident against Thailand and Malaysia, having beaten the former in the King’s Cup in June and Malaysia in the final of the AFF Suzuki Cup last December.
“We have to forget the recent win against Thailand. Thailand are still a good team and a big rival of Vietnam. However, despite who my rivals are, Vietnam still set a target to top group to enter the third qualification of the Asian region,” midfielder Que Ngoc Hai said.
Korean head coach Park Hang-seo has said that the win against Thailand wasn’t his final target.
“Vietnam’s goal is to reach to the last qualifying round of the World Cup. We will do all we can to meet the target,” Park said.
Vietnam will begin their campaign with an away game against Thailand on September 5, facing off with newly-appointed head coach of Thailand Akira Nishino, who led Japan to the round of 16 at the World Cup last year.
Meanwhile, President of the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) Le Khanh Hai said Vietnam will be put in the best possible position to beat Thailand.
“Of course, the journey to the World Cup 2022 doesn’t have only the Vietnam and Thailand game. Clearly, the history between the two sides is very interesting so fans of two countries are eager for the match. Both Vietnam and Thailand want a favourable opening. I am directing relevant departments to have the best preparation for Vietnam,” he said.
“I want Vietnamese players have the best care to help them have steel will and steadfast psychology. In terms of Vietnam’s way of playing, I don’t worry much as I believe in Park.”
The second qualifying round for Asia features 40 teams, divided into eight groups of five teams, playing in the home-away format.
The eight group winners and four best runners-up will qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 to be held in China as well as the third and final round of World Cup qualifiers.-VNS