Not only was Vietnam’s narrow 1-0 defeat by Australia undeserved, it also dampened the team’s hopes of reaching the later stages of the World Cup Asian qualifying rounds. Only the top two teams from Group B will gain automatic qualification for the 2022 World Cup.
As it stands, this is likely to be a three way battle between Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia. However, with the third-placed team in Group B getting to reach the fourth round as a single-match play-off, it’s clear that Vietnam are still in with the slenderest of chances of getting to go to Qatar.
Even the most generous bookmakers in the sportsbooks comparison on playersbest.com only give seriously long odds for Vietnam to get that third-place finish. Much will depend on how other lowly-ranked teams like Oman and China perform. Oman already provided a major shock when they beat Japan 1-0 in the opening game of the World Cup Asian qualifying rounds.
This contrasts with Vietnam’s fortunes as they were comfortably beaten 3-1 away to Saudi Arabia at the start of their campaign. Such a defeat was all the more annoying as Vietnam managed to get an unlikely lead thanks to Nguyen Quang Hai’s shock goal in the third minute. But the Golden Star Warriors were unable to withstand the Saudi Arabian assault in Riyadh and it wasn’t hugely surprising to see the team return home without a point.
A great result for the Golden Star Warriors
While Vietnam’s progression to the later stages of the World Cup qualifiers seems unlikely, it’s important not to forget how far the team have come. After all, it marks the only time that Vietnam have managed to qualify for the final round of the Asian section of the World Cup qualifiers. Not only is this a prestigious accolade in itself, but it gives the team that all-important qualification to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup in China.
Much of the credit must go to head coach Park Hang-seo who has managed to create a team that is disciplined and capable of playing some quality football. Any team who can frustrate a team of Australia’s quality clearly knows what it’s doing, and it’s important to remember that Vietnam have had to play many of their games without the backing of home crowd support.
All of which sets up Vietnam’s remaining World Cup qualifiers to be hugely enjoyable even if the Golden Star Warriors fail to make it to Qatar. The next game sees Vietnam visiting China on 7 October. It’s a must-win game for Vietnam as China are currently rooted to the bottom of the Group B table. Following this, Vietnam travel to Oman on 12 October, and they’ll have to play well to get a result against a team who took three points off Japan.
It’s not inconceivable that Vietnam could have six points in the bag by the end of October, but things will get trickier by the time that November comes around. This is because the Golden Star Warriors entertain Japan on 11 November before hosting Saudi Arabia on 16 November. By this point, both Japan and Saudi Arabia will be fully up to speed and will be desperate to claim any point going from the supposedly ‘weaker’ teams.
Obviously anything could still happen, and anyone who remembers Vietnam’s impressive 4-0 win over Indonesia in June will know that the Golden Star Warriors can play some excellent football. But whether Vietnam have what it takes to get out of Group B and head to the 2022 World Cup remains to be seen.