Vietnam futsal team to play Thailand ahead of World Cup playoff

By Hoang Nguyen   May 6, 2021 | 10:58 pm PT
Vietnam futsal team to play Thailand ahead of World Cup playoff
The Vietnam national futsal team train at the Thai Son Nam Sports Center in HCMC on May 4, 2021. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Football Federation.
The Vietnam national futsal team are expected to play a friendly with Thailand to prepare for the World Cup playoff this May.

"Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) is working with Thailand Football Association (TFA) to organize an exhibition match between the two national futsal teams on May 18, in order to help Vietnam complete preparations," VFF Vice Chairman Tran Quoc Tuan said Thursday.

The friendly is set to be played in United Arab Emirates (UAE), host of the World Cup playoff. Vietnam will face Lebanon in the playoff, the first leg of which will kick off on May 20 and the second, five days later. The other match of the playoff will be between Iraq and Thailand.

On Tuesday, 22 national futsal team players, including some new faces, were called up by head coach Pham Minh Giang to train at Thai Son Nam Sports Center in Ho Chi Minh City. The list will be shortened to 14 on May 14 before the team depart for UAE.

All team members were inoculated against Covid-19 on Wednesday.

On April 21, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) handed direct slots to Iran, Japan and Uzbekistan, while Vietnam, Thailand, Iraq, and Lebanon compete for the remaining two places.

Vietnam had hoped to finish in the top five at 2020 AFC Futsal Championship in Kuwait to qualify for World Cup, but the Covid-19 pandemic caused the tournament to be rescheduled three times before finally being canceled this year.

Therefore, AFC decided to pick the three direct slots and two others through playoffs by combining two sets of criteria. The first is from the top five teams of the most recent continental tournament, AFC Futsal Championship 2018, while the second calculates the top five teams from the overall ranking of the last three editions of AFC Futsal Championship (2014, 2016 and 2018).

Two winners of the playoff will qualify for Futsal World Cup 2021 in Lithuania, scheduled to take place from September 12 to October 3.

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