How Vietnam can advance to 2026 World Cup third qualifiers

By Xuan Binh   June 6, 2024 | 08:50 pm PT
The victory against the Philippines has boosted Vietnam's chances of advancing to the 2026 World Cup third qualifiers, although they are no longer in control of their own fate.

Vietnam made a thrilling comeback to beat their guests Philippines 3-2 on Thursday night, in round 5 of Group F's World Cup second qualifiers.

They will progress to the third qualifiers if they defeat Iraq in the final game of the group on June 12, provided Indonesia do not beat the Philippines the previous day.

Coach Kim Sang-sik's team will also advance if they draw Iraq and Indonesia lose to the Philippines.

In the remaining scenarios, such as Vietnam losing to Iraq or Indonesia beating the Philippines, Vietnam will be eliminated.

Tiền đạo Nguyễn Văn Toàn (trái) và trung vệ Đỗ Duy Mạnh mừng sau trận thắng Philippines 3-2 trên sân Mỹ Đình, Hà Nội, lượt năm bảng F vòng loại hai khu vực châu Á, World Cup 2026 tối 6/6/2024. Ảnh: Ngọc Thành

Striker Nguyen Van Toan (L) celebrates with teammate Do Duy Manh after Vietnam's 3-2 victory over the Philippines in the World Cup second qualifiers in My Dinh Stadium, Hanoi, June 6, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

Vietnam are currently third in Group F with six points, one point behind Indonesia, with the same goal difference (-2). Under the qualifiers’ regulations, the team with the better goal difference will be placed higher among teams with the same points. Therefore, if Vietnam and Indonesia end up with the same points after the final round, Kim's team are guaranteed a better goal difference and will rank higher.

The venues for the final two matches are not on Vietnam’s side. They have to play away at Basra Stadium in Iraq, while Indonesia will play at home at Bung Karno Stadium against the Philippines.

Iraq have won all five of their matches so far and already secured their spot in the third qualifiers, while the Philippines have been eliminated, having only earned one point.

Vietnam have not managed a single win in their six previous encounters with Iraq, drawing one and losing five. In their last four meetings, the Gulf country won narrowly by scorelines of 1-0 or 3-2. Coach Jesus Casas has also stated that Iraq will not loosen up in the final match, which promises a tough game for Kim's team.

Vietnam must also count on the Philippines to pull up a surprise result in Jakarta. In their last five outings, the Philippines have won one, drawn three, and lost one against Indonesia.

The upcoming match at Bung Karno kicks off at 7:30 p.m. local time, a few hours earlier than the Iraq - Vietnam game. If Indonesia beat the Philippines, the match in Basra will be merely procedural for Vietnam. However, if Indonesia cannot win, the fate of Kim's team will be in their hand again.

Teams advancing to the 2026 World Cup third qualifiers will also earn a spot in the 2027 AFC Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia, while the remaining sides will play in the Asian Cup qualifiers.

In the previous World Cup qualification cycle, Vietnam were the only Southeast Asian representatives to make it to the third qualifiers. This time, either Vietnam or Indonesia will be able to replicate this achievement.

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