Vietnam are expected to have a tricky journey at the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup later this year, as they have been drawn in a tough group with five-time champions Brazil.
So, what are the opportunities for Pham Minh Giang’s troops at the largest global arena for world futsal?
|The Vietnamese futsal team. (Photo: VFF)|
The official draw for the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup recently took place at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, seeing Vietnam join Brazil, the Czech Republic and Panama in Group D.
This is considered a tough group for the Southeast Asian side, as the three other members are all heavyweights of the sport.
Brazil, currently second in the FIFA rankings, have been crowned champions five times in the past (1989, 1992, 1996, 2008, 2012). The South American representatives will head to the ninth World Cup as odds-on favourites for the overall trophy after coursing through the qualifying round in a fantastic manner. They have never been missing, not even once, in the history of the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic, currently 16th in the world, are the second toughest challengers in Group D for the Vietnamese team. Despite not achieving many impressive results in the World Cup arena, they are among the leading teams in Europe with a third-place finish at the continental championship 11 years ago.
Panama will not be easily defeated either as they are now six places above Vietnam in the world rankings. They have reached the Futsal World Cup just three times, but are always a leading team in the North American region with a highly skillful playing style.
Despite such facts, there remain opportunities for Pham Minh Giang’s Vietnamese side to sail through the group stage for the second consecutive time.
|The aggregate 1-1 draw against Lebanon in the recent World Cup playoff is enough to send Vietnam through to the world's largest futsal event. (Photo: VFF)|
The 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup will feature 24 teams across six groups of four. The group stage will be played in a round robin format to determine the top two teams from each group and the four best third-placed teams for the round of 16.
The most likely aim of the Vietnamese team is to make the top four best third-placed finishers in the group stage. To realise it, Giang’s troops will need at least a win against Panama and to secure advantageous results from the clashes with Brazil and the Czech Republic.
“We can definitely overcome the group stage if we manage to finish among the best third-placed teams. Brazil and the Czech Republic are very strong rivals. Only Panama are on-par opponents for us, so we must clinch a victory there,” the Vietnamese head coach said.
“Vietnam will deploy a counterattacking tactic against Brazil and the Czech Republic. Then, the entire team will strive to hold off Panama and seize the opportunity of advancing to the round of 16,” he stated.
|The Vietnamese futsal team celebrate after winning their World Cup playoff against Lebanon. (Photo: VFF)|
Giang’s troops have returned to Ho Chi Minh City from the World Cup playoff campaign in the United Arab Emirates. After completing quarantine procedures, the team will get back to training and are expected to leave for a training camp in Spain this August to prepare for the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup, to be hosted by Lithuania from September 12 to October 3.
This is the second consecutive time Vietnam have qualified for the Futsal World Cup arena. On their debut at the Colombia World Cup 2016, the Southeast Asian side made it through to the knockout stage as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Vietnam secured a 1-1 tie with Lebanon in the return leg of their playoff on May 25, clinching a berth for the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup finals for the second time, thanks to the away goals rule.