Second thoughts: Fans ponder cost of Vietnam beating Japan

By Staff reporters   August 20, 2018 | 10:17 pm GMT+7
Second thoughts: Fans ponder cost of Vietnam beating Japan
Vietnamese players after winning Japan 1-0 on August 19 in Indonesia at the Asian Games 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

A great win or strategic overkill? Vietnam’s victory over Japan at Asiad 2018 has sparked a debate.

While many fans are euphoric over Vietnam beating much more fancied Japan at the ongoing Asian Games men’s football tournament, others are questioning if it was a wise move, strategically, to go all out at a stage when the country was already through to the next round.

Last Sunday was a happy day for Vietnamese football lovers as Vietnam beat Japan 1-0 to top Group D at the Asian Games 2018 in Indonesia. Japan is an unquestioned regional football powerhouse, and a victory against such an opponent was one to savor.

However, many others feel that the great efforts made by the team was not needed because Vietnam was already in the next round, win or lose.

Before the game started at 4 p.m. on Sunday, a reader wrote to VnExpress, saying that if Vietnam beats Japan, the team gets nothing but bragging rights.

If Vietnam takes the top spot in group D, it will clash against one of the four best third-position teams in the group stage next Thursday, which could have been Thailand, Qatar, South Korea or North Korea.

If it had lost the game, the country would have met Malaysia next, not as big a team as the other opponents, making further progress in the tournament easier, the reader argued.

“It would be better if the Vietnamese team plans for the long term instead of focusing on one single game ahead,” the reader felt.

Yet this article received a backlash as most other readers said the “long-term plan” that Vietnamese football players should focus on is opportunities to test themselves in matches against big players.

However, others argued that this view went “against the spirit of the sport.”

The top comment in this debate that received almost 1,500 likes came from reader “tpl2015.”

It said: “The sporting spirit lies in what head coach Park Hang-seo has said: ‘We do not have to avoid South Korea. For the Vietnamese team, every match is a final game, we will play with our heart and soul in every match.’ I support you and thank you Park.”

But it did appear that some people were having second thoughts about this victory.

Unlike the two previous games in group D against Pakistan and Nepal, Vietnam needed to play harder and expend more energy against Japan.

“Most members of the Japanese team are professional players who have been pinned as core players for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Therefore, it was not easy at all to beat them. We had to play at our best,” Nguyen Van Quyet, the team’s captain, told VnExpress.

Sadly, midfielder Do Hung Dung, a key player, broke his pinky toe during the match and had to leave the field in the 40th minute. Dung’s skill at stealing the ball from rivals has contributed significantly to Vietnam’s victories, expert commentators have said.

Doctors have said that he will not be able to continue at the Asian Games and would even have to return to Vietnam for a surgery.

Midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai, who scored the only goal in the game with Japan, and attacker Ha Duc Chinh, were also injured.

Nguyen Van Quyet (L), Vietnams captain, helps midfielder Do Hung Dung remove his shoe during the game against Japan at Asian Games 2018 on August 19 in Indonesia. Dung has been ruled out of the tournament by doctors, who say he might have to return to Vietnam for surgery. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

Nguyen Van Quyet (L), Vietnam's captain, helps midfielder Do Hung Dung remove his shoe during the game against Japan at Asian Games 2018 on August 19 in Indonesia. Dung has been ruled out of the tournament by doctors, who say he might have to return to Vietnam for surgery. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

The remaining midfielders are said to be better at attacking and scoring rather than stealing the ball from opponents. Under Asiad 2018 rules, Vietnam cannot send another player to Indonesia to replace Dung and the team has to continue with the 19 players left.

Most VnExpress readers now say they feel sorry for the Vietnamese team, as players had to go through a lot to get the victory against Japan.

“Losing Dung is like France losing Kante,” reader TNH said in a comment.

“I don’t know why Park let Vietnamese players work so hard for this match. Nguyen Quang Hai and Doan Van Hau [defender] are almost worn out after the game. In international football tournaments, when a team has already got a ticket to the next round, they will play it safe and reserve their health and strength for the next round.”

Other readers also said Vietnam has paid a high price to win a match when the stakes were not high.

But other readers said they believe the team and coach Park know what they are doing, and that they are proud of the team because thanks to these young players, Vietnamese football has once again made a big step further after ending as runner up at the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 (AFC U23) Championship in January.

Defender Do Duy Manh told VnExpress: “Injury is something no one wants. But as football player, we have to play at our best and be willing to sacrifice. After the game with Japan, we have encouraged Dung and we promise that we will do our best to cover the responsibility he has to leave behind.”

New flash

Vietnam will next meet Bahrain after the latter defeated Malaysia to become one of four best third-position team in its group. Their game will start at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 23.

 
 
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