2022 World Cup qualifiers: Vietnam evoke mixed feelings in opponents

By Hoang Nguyen   June 25, 2019 | 02:01 pm GMT+7
2022 World Cup qualifiers: Vietnam evoke mixed feelings in opponents
Vietnam are placed in the second seeding pot for 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.

Weaker teams seem confident about playing Vietnam in the second round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers while stronger teams are wary.

Despite having been beaten by Vietnam this year and being ranked 20 places lower in the FIFA World Rankings, Thailand appear confident of defeating Vietnam if they are drawn in the same group. The Thai media have even said being in the same group with Vietnam is lucky and they hoped it would happen.

Thai newspaper SMM Sport wrote: "After taking a look at the seeding pots, Thailand can only count on luck in the draw for the second round. Thailand hope to be drawn with China (first pot) and Vietnam (second pot) because they are easy to beat."

Thailand is often considered the regional powerhouse, even after Vietnam won the AFF Cup last December. But Vietnam affirmed their position after the national team beat Thai 1-0 at the friendly tournament King's Cup earlier this month. Last March, Vietnam's U23 team beat Thailand's 4-0 to earn a ticket to the 2020 AFC U23 Championship.

Yet SMM Sport is all confident: "The chances of advancing for Thailand will be much higher if they are in the same group as Vietnam and China."

For the draw, the top eight ranked teams are in the first pot. The next eight, including Vietnam, are in the second and so on and there are five pots in all. One team from each pot will be drawn in each group. The draw for the second will be held on July 17 in Qatar.

Another country wanting to face Vietnam in the second round are 100th ranked Palestine, who are in the third pot.

Football Palestine website said: "We cannot be in the same group as Iran or Saudi Arabia from the first pot because of political reasons; so the ideal opponent will be China. From the second pot, Vietnam can totally be beaten because they are at the same level as us and we hope to play against them."

Vietnam and Palestine have clashed three times in the past, with a win for each team and a draw.

On the other hand, some stronger teams seem to consider Vietnam a challenge.

China for one are worried about drawing Vietnam.

Chinese newspaper Sina said: "Although China succeeded in securing a spot in the first seeding pot they can still be placed in a very tough group.

"In the second pot are very strong teams like Iraq, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam, who have improved immensely in recent years. China used to lose when they faced these teams in the past and don’t want that to happen again."

South Korea is one of the top three teams in Asia and regular World Cup qualifiers. But the South Korean media appears to be uncertain.

Best Eleven, the oldest monthly football magazine in the country, said: "What’s the worst scenario for South Korea on their way to Qatar 2022? Of course it’s being placed with Vietnam, North Korea and Kuwait. Though South Korea are not scared of any team, these are very tough opponents to beat."

Since Park Hang-seo became Vietnam’s head coach, they have played his home country once. It was in the semifinals of the 2018 Asian Games, and South Korea beat Vietnam 3-1 and went on to become the champions.

In the latest FIFA World Rankings, Vietnam climbed three places to 96th, their highest in 20 years. This has helped them remain firmly in the top 16 in Asia and get into the second seeding pot.

 
 
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