Vietnam should focus on defense in Saudi Arabia clash: expert

By Hoai Khong   August 21, 2021 | 04:32 pm PT
Vietnam should focus on defense in Saudi Arabia clash: expert
Vietnam national football team during a training session in Hanoi on August 12, 2021. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Football Federation
Football expert Phan Anh Tu said Vietnam must prioritize its defense in the upcoming final World Cup qualifying round game against Saudi Arabia.

Tu said Vietnam's opponents in the final round, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan and China, are really strong and "in a different class."

"With Southeast Asian teams like Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia, Vietnam can balance between offense and defense. But with the teams in the final round, we should focus more on holding our defense."

Sometimes, Vietnam defenders can read the situation well but because of physical limitations, cannot stop the attack, he said.

Vietnam will miss some key players in the game with Saudi Arabia, but Tu believes it’s not a big problem since coach Park Hang-seo always picks worthy replacements.

Key defender Doan Van Hau won't be available for the game due to injury while striker Nguyen Cong Phuong will have to take care of his newborn.

"This is not the first time Vietnam play an important game or a tournament without a few key players. Since coach Park took over the team, Vietnam have never fielded the best lineup possible. However, thanks to feasible tactics and suitable style of play, the team've always had decent replacements available. Park is really good at improvising," he added.

Tu thinks the upcoming game with Saudi Arabia will be a great test for Vietnam.

"When facing stronger teams in the past, Vietnam always tried to minimize the number of goals conceded. With the current situation, if the players can maintain their spirit, keep calm and follow the coach’s instructions, that’s already a success. When you’re weaker than the opponent, you must be patient and concentrate. Ninety minutes on Saudi Arabia's home turf will challenge the team’s tenacity under pressure and ability to counter-attack."

The Golden Dragons will play an away game against Saudi Arabia on Sept. 2. Five days later, they will return to Hanoi and play a home game against Australia. The team have been training since Aug. 5 and are set to fly to Saudi Arabia on Aug. 28.

"Vietnam have a set of members that have played together for many years. They have international experience and understand each other really well. That’s an important factor to build a disciplined and hard-to-beat team," Tu said.

go to top