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Vietnam need more attacking options in AFF Cup: expert

By Quoc Huy   December 16, 2021 | 02:19 am PT
Vietnam need more attacking options in AFF Cup: expert
Forward Nguyen Cong Phuong (C) is surrounded by Indonesia defenders in an AFF Cup game on December 15, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Doan Huynh
Football expert Doan Minh Xuong said it's necessary for Vietnam to prepare more options to score goals, after the 0-0 AFF Cup draw against an extremely defensive Indonesia.

"It's laudable for Indonesia and unfortunate for Vietnam. Indonesia have improved a lot on style of play and formation. They know pretty well how Vietnam play and the strategy that coach Park Hang-seo deploys. When playing teams like Laos and Cambodia, Indonesia attacked to win. But with Vietnam, they chose a defensive approach and were ready to play rough just to get a point," Xuong said.

Indonesia started the match with a 5-4-1 formation, then sometimes switched to 4-1-4-1, as their defender Alfeandra Dewangga played like a defensive midfielder to increase pressure on Vietnam midfielders like Nguyen Tuan Anh and Nguyen Hoang Duc.

The defensive system with proper distribution and regulation caused many difficulties for Vietnam. They let the opponents exploit the flanks but prevented them from getting the ball inside the box, forcing Vietnam to pass back and find another way into goal.

Xuong also complimented the stamina of Indonesia. Despite playing three games in eight days, they were still on full tank and successfully kept a clean sheet until the end.

"Vietnam used the same approach as Malaysia, which is possession. But Indonesia defended with more layers that proved hard to crack. Vietnam went up high but their attack lacked direction. Key players didn't have enough leverage to overcome the defensive traps, which reduced efficacy," Xuong said.

In the second half, Vietnam fielded two target players Nguyen Tien Linh and Ha Duc Chinh. Vietnam switched to spamming crosses from the flanks to seek a goal. However, Linh and Chinh were not at their best form so the tactic didn't work.

Xuong suggested Vietnam prepare different tactics in case other opponents play like Indonesia in upcoming AFF Cup games.

"Vietnam need more options. Facing a defensive opponent like that, midfielders Hoang Duc and Tuan Anh should put more pressure on defenders to create more space for the forwards. The team also need fast-paced players to drill through the defense. I wish Nguyen Van Toan was put in sooner because he can cause trouble to the opponent's defense with his acceleration. The team also need to make the most out of set pieces. We got seven corners in the game with Indonesia, but couldn't convert any of them," he said.

Toan, a striker known for his speed, was subbed in in the 89th minute.

Xuong said that in 2018, Vietnam were hungry for the title, but this time, they are the defending champions so the pressure is bigger.

Vietnam will need a big win in the last game against Cambodia to secure first place in group B, with seven points like Indonesia, but with less goals scored.

"At present, Cambodia cannot compare to Vietnam in power and class. Therefore, I think Vietnam will win to enter the semifinals."

About the existing problems in the team, Xuong said: "Vietnam compete in AFF Cup this year without several key players. Their replacements have yet to meet expectations. The next issue is stamina. Even though it's improved, in the knock-out rounds with high intensity matches, the stamina of players can be easily drained. Coach Park and his assistants need to calculate and distribute the players properly in each game so they can have a comfortable mentality and stamina for the tough games ahead."

Vietnam will play Cambodia at 7:30 p.m. (Hanoi time) on Sunday. The match will be reported live on VnExpress International.

 
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