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Defense is key in Japan clash: football expert

By Vinh San   November 11, 2021 | 12:38 am PT
Defense is key in Japan clash: football expert
Coach Park Hang-seo and Vietnamese players in a training session in Hanoi on November 9, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Expert Phan Anh Tu said Vietnam need to be patient and focus on their defense before thinking about scoring against Japan in their World Cup qualifier Thursday.

"Japan are a disciplined team. Recent disappointing results made them more determined - they are becoming more dangerous. But do Japan have enough stamina to play attacking football constantly for 90 minutes? Getting through the multi-layered defense of Vietnam is not easy so I think Japan will calculate and select the right time to strike rather than attacking continuously," Tu said.

He said Japan’s real power lies in their ability to capitalize on the opponent’s mistakes. Their high quality of players and determination allowed them to do that. Meanwhile, during past games, Vietnam made many individual mistakes - most from the defense. That’s what Vietnam need to avoid when playing an opponent like Japan.

Tu, a former general secretary of Vietnam Football Federation, also talked about the possibility for Vietnam to score in this game.

"Japan have only conceded three goals. Oman succeeded when they decided to attack in the last minutes and scored the winning goal. Vietnam need to focus on endurance and patience throughout the game and wait for the right time if they want to get past the solid Japanese defense."

Japan will surely start the game strong but if Vietnam can withstand it, they can reduce the opponent’s excitement, then counter-attack using speedy and skillful players, he said.

This is not the first time Vietnam play Japan or teams at the same level as Japan and they have proved that they can make it quite difficult for stronger teams looking to score. "The players need to understand that if they play at 100 percent of their ability and use the proper tactics, Vietnam will have a chance," Tu said.

When asked to choose between two forwards, Nguyen Cong Phuong and Phan Van Duc to play from the start, Tu selected Duc.

He said Vietnam are not capable of playing at high intensity in both attack and defense. Vietnam still need to prioritize defense, so Duc is a reasonable choice.

"Our flanks are more vulnerable without key full-backs like Doan Van Hau and Nguyen Trong Hoang. Therefore, the defense needs support from the forwards. Phuong can be used in the second half when Vietnam need more attacking options. If we are too early in attacking, the game might end early for us too."

Vietnam have lost four previous matches against Saudi Arabia, Australia, China and Oman, scoring four goals and conceding 10.

Tu said during the four matches, there were times when Vietnam thought of victory. "At the time, we tried to find a goal but lacked defensive cover behind. If Vietnam are more focused on defense, we can place any team in a deadlock."

Vietnam will play Japan at home in My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi at 7 p.m. The game will be reported live on VnExpress International.

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