Tokyo Olympics qualifiers: Vietnam women outplayed by South Korea, tougher opponent awaits

By Hoang Nguyen, Lam ThoaFebruary 9, 2020 | 11:12 pm PT
Tokyo Olympics qualifiers: Vietnam women outplayed by South Korea, tougher opponent awaits
Vietnam women's football team (in white) lose 0-3 to South Korea on February 9, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Asian Football Confederation.
A 0-3 loss to South Korea placed Vietnam second in group A, facing an even tougher opponent in the playoff stage.

After winning 1-0 against Myanmar on February 6, the national women’s football team were guaranteed to advance to the playoffs, so Sunday’s group A game against South Korea was a chance to gain more experience against a much stronger opponent.

At the Jeju Stadium in South Korea, the gap between the teams was evident. Vietnam could only keep a clean sheet until the 23rd minute, when Jang Sel-gi opened the score after showing off great ball control.

Vietnam was consistently on the defensive with South Korea having 75 percent possession. The second goal came in the 54th minute with a powerful shot from the left flank by Choo Hyo-joo that beat goalkeeper Kim Thanh.

Despite a tight game focused on defense, Vietnam conceded one more goal in the 83rd minute with long distance cracker from Ji So-yun.

At the post match conference, Vietnam head coach Mai Duc Chung admitted the difference in level between the two teams.

"South Korea dominated the whole game. It's obvious that Vietnam are not yet on their level. But the players have maintained a high fighting spirit and I’m proud of what they presented on the field," Chung said.

He took several positives in the 0-3 loss, saying they signified success for the team.

"Before this game, we had set three targets. First was to try and not concede too many goals; second was to avoid injuries; and the third was to ensure no one gets a yellow card. The players met all three. I’m also satisfied with the young players. They are just 19 and this is their first time in an international tournament, facing such a strong team like South Korea. And they have done great today," he added.

In the playoffs, Vietnam will face either China or Australia, who are even stronger than South Korea in world rankings.

"In the next match, we will meet even bigger teams than South Korea. They have better skills and physique. We have some time to improve our tactics - perhaps we can only perform short passes, because long passes and crosses will not work against them," Chung said.

The playffs will have home and away legs for each pair on March 6 and March 11. The two winners of the playoff matches will qualify to participate in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 tournament.

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