AFC U23 qualifiers: Vietnam yet to gel as Thailand waits

By Hoang Nguyen, Lam Thoa   March 26, 2019 | 04:09 pm GMT+7
AFC U23 qualifiers: Vietnam yet to gel as Thailand waits
Vietnamese players greet the audiences after beating Indonesia 1-0 at the AFC U23 Championship qualifier in Hanoi, March 24, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Tho

Vietnam has issues to sort out as it faces regional heavyweight Thailand in the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers.

Although Thailand has automatically qualified for the AFC U23 Championship next year as the host, they signed up to play the qualifiers to gain more experience.

Placed in group K with Vietnam, they’ve set themselves the goal of being placed above the Golden Dragons.

"Every team wants to defeat Vietnam and Thailand is no exception," Thailand head coach Alexandre Gama said at a press conference last week before the qualifiers began. The team tops the group now with two big wins, 4-0 against Indonesia and 8-0 against Brunei.

Vietnam, meanwhile, had to wait until the very last minute to sneak past Indonesia with a solitary goal.

"We come here for the first place in group K. We want to beat Vietnam and they also want to defeat us. We have done some research on their style of play and got the motivation to win this game," Gama told Siam Sports.

After two games, Thailand has a goal difference of +12 versus Vietnam’s +7. This means that the only way for Vietnam to top group K is to beat Thailand outright. A draw won’t do.

But defeating Thailand is easier said than done, as their U23 team has a quality roster, including key striker, Supachai Jaided, who’s just 20. In the two games against Indonesia and Brunei, he scored five goals.

Supachai Jaided (L) of Thailand is expected to be a challenge for Vietnam in the coming match Tuesday night. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

Supachai Jaided (L) of Thailand is expected to be a challenge for Vietnam in the coming match Tuesday night. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

Coach Park Hang-seo is likely to use 22-year-old defender Tran Dinh Trong, one of the key centre-backs for Vietnam in AFF Cup 2018, to mark Jaided. Trong has just got off the injured list, and is completely fit for the game.

However, Vietnam’s midfield lacks rhythm. New players like Truong Van Thai Quy, Do Thanh Thinh and Trieu Viet Hung did not deal well with high pressure from opponents, leading to some jitters in the game with Indonesia. Park had to make adjustments by having Nguyen Quang Hai move to the midfield.

Vietnam’s attacking frontline is also not settled and looks to lack bite. The team is missing a striker who can make a difference, like Nguyen Cong Phuong in the national team. Dinh Thanh Binh came off the bench at the end of the first half against Indonesia, but was subbed out soon after.

What bothers coach Park the most is teamwork and synchronization.

"There are many new players on the team and with the short time of training, it’s difficult for them to fully understand my tactics," he said.

Even experienced players like midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai, goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung and striker Ha Duc Chinh are yet to show good form in this tournament.

On the bright side, Vietnam has discovered new talents like midfielder Nguyen Hoang Duc, who played well in the Indonesia game.

Vietnam are certainly carrying more disadvantages compared to Thailand ahead of this important match. But in the past, under Park’s lead, both the youth and national teams have managed to beat stronger opponents like Syria, Qatar, Iraq and Jordan. And they have the advantage of playing at home.

The game will kick off 8 p.m. at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, and will be reported live.

 
 
go to top