U19 Vietnam boys enter AFC championship finals

By Quang Dung, Thang Nguyen   November 10, 2019 | 07:10 pm PT
U19 Vietnam boys enter AFC championship finals
Vietnam (white) play Japan at the AFC U19 Championship qualifiers in Ho Chi Minh City, November 10, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
Vietnam have sealed a place at the 2020 AFC U19 Championship as one of the four best second-placed teams in qualification round.

The team managed this after securing a goalless draw against U19 Japan Sunday in a Group J match of the 2020 AFC U19 Qualifiers at Ho Chi Minh City's Thong Nhat Stadium.

They will join 11 first-placed teams, the other three second-placed teams and hosts Uzbekistan at the tournament between October 14 and 31, 2020.

U19 Japan only needed a draw to advance to the next round, so they played cautious football, with defenders staying back and focusing on thwarting possible counter-attacks from Vietnam.

U19 Vietnam, fully aware of their opponents’ strength, patiently waited for opportunities. They relied primarily on counter-attacks by the dynamic forward Nguyen Van Tung and midfielder Nguyen Huu Nam. While they seriously threatened the Japanese goal post several times, they failed to find the net.

In the last 15 minutes, Vietnam gain an advantage as Japan's Sakuragawa was red carded for a foul. But this made no difference to the score line.

This is the sixth consecutive appearance of Vietnam at the AFC U19 Championship's final round. In the last five appearances, the team's best performance was to reach the semifinal in 2016. The 2016 championship introduced Doan Van Hau, Nguyen Quang Hai, Nguyen Tien Linh, Ha Duc Chinh and many other familiar faces who have contributed hugely to the national football in the last three years.

Advancing to the final round of AFC U19 Championship is the first success of U19 Vietnam with their new manager Philippe Troussier, nicknamed the ‘White Witch Doctor’ for his impressive runs with many African national teams.

His best record was with the Japanese national team (1998-2002), who won the 2000 AFC Asian Cup and reached the last 16 of 2002 FIFA World Cup. This remained the Japanese’s best World Cup run ever.

Most recently, he was a strategic director and then a technical director of PVF Football Academy in Vietnam.

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