Vietnam vs Uzbekistan in U23 Asian Cup final: Who do you think will win?

By Editorial   January 25, 2018 | 04:00 am PT
Vietnam is once again the underdog going into the big game, but the team has been defying expectations since day one.

As the excitement builds ahead of the final of the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Championship, all eyes are on the two title contenders, Vietnam and Uzbekistan.

Neither team has ever made it beyond the group stage of the biennial championship prior to this year. Previous winners include Japan in 2016, who lost 4-0 in this year’s quarterfinals to Uzbekistan, and Iraq in 2013 (when it was the AFC U22 Cup), who lost in the quarterfinals on penalties (5-3) to none other than Vietnam.

This year, both finalists lost a match in the group stage. Vietnam lost 2-1 to South Korea, but the Koreans were subsequently defeated by Uzbekistan in the semis, while Uzbekistan lost to Qatar 1-0, who then lost to Vietnam... also in the semis.

As for goal stats, Uzbekistan has so far fared better than the more defensively minded Vietnam.

Vietnam Uzbekistan
Goals scored 7 10
Goals conceded 7 2
Top goalscorer Nguyen Quang Hai (4 goals) Jasurbek Yakhshiboev (3 goals)
Formation 5-4-1 4-2-3-1
Average age 20.7 20.9
What they said "I told all my 23 players to put up a tremendous fight and that they should not disappoint the people of Vietnam. They did not let them down." coach Park Hang-seo after his side's semifinal win. "My players did their maximum, it was their best performance of this tournament. We were strong tactically and physically." coach Ravshan Khaydarov after his side's semifinal win.

The upcoming match is not the first time the two teams have met.

Just last month, Vietnam’s U23 team lost 1-2 to Uzbekistan U23 at the M150-Cup in Thailand. Uzbekistan then went on to defeat Japan in the final, while Vietnam came third after beating Thailand. When it came to the top scorer, however, Uzbekistan's Zabikhillo Urinboev found an equal in Vietnam’s Nguyen Cong Phuong. Both scored four goals and are ready to renew their rivalry on Saturday.

Take a look at some of the best goals scored by each team in the semis.

Weather wise, it’s currently snowing in Changzhou, the city in China's Jiangsu Province where the final will be played. Temperatures are forecast to be freezing on Saturday, which is more likely to suit Uzbekistan, where temperatures in December average -8 degrees Celsius, rather than tropical Vietnam.

When it comes to the bookmakers, Uzbekistan is the odds-on favorite.

Who will be crowned champion? Let us know by casting your vote and leaving a comment.

For in depth analysis, click here

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