Vietnam start Asian Cup journey losing 2-4 to tournament's favorite Japan

By Hoang Nguyen    JAN. 14, 2024

Vietnam had an impressive performance in their 2-4 defeat against Asia's strongest team Japan in the first round of Asian Cup group stage Sunday.

Before the game against Japan, most people predicted that Vietnam would suffer a big defeat against the Asian giant.

Vietnam did lose, but not without a fight. In fact, they surprised and shocked everyone at times.

Vietnam entered the game confidently and didn’t intend to play defensive football against Japan, as they attacked without hesitation and even kept a fair amount of possession.

When Japan scored in the 11th minute with Takumi Minamino’s goal, Vietnam still kept the pressure on and equalized just five minutes later. Nguyen Dinh Bac, the youngest player of Vietnam, scored with a beautiful header that left goalkeeper Zion Suzuki no chance.

The shocking part came in the 33rd minute when Bui Hoang Viet Anh headed it toward goal from a freekick. Keeper Suzuki couldn’t catch the ball cleanly and Pham Tuan Hai was there to get a tap-in.

At that time, Vietnamese fans had dreamed of a draw or even a win for Vietnam, but they quickly got back on the ground with two world-class goals in late first half, by Minamino and Keito Nakamura. Both were the goals that even the top keepers in the world couldn't keep out.

In the second half, both Japan and Vietnam played slower after the first 10 minutes of pressing. Japan were more cautious this time as they did not let Vietnam have too much time on the ball.

Vietnam’s chances compared to the first half were way fewer, while Japan attacked continously, but could only score one more from Ayase Ueda.

The game ended with Japan winning 4-2, but Vietnam’s performance, especially in the first half, is laudable.

They will play Southeast Asian rival Indonesia in the second round on Jan. 19, when Japan play Iraq.

Asian Cup: Vietnam 2-4 Japan

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