The Hanoitimes - Vietnam now know and, more importantly, believe they can win.
Vietnam have moved up a place to reach the 99th spot in the ranking released earlier this month by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and now top Southeast Asia.
In the FIFA’ latest set of rankings, Vietnam maintain their position as the best ASEAN team in the world.
FIFA's ranking for Vietnam men's team. Photo: FIFA
The recently-concluded ranking is thanks to the squad's considerable improvement at the AFC Asian Cup 2019 held in January in which the Golden Dragons entered the quarterfinals.
As far as other ASEAN teams are concerned, Thailand have moved up three places to 115th, while the Philippines have gone down seven spots to 123rd in the list, Myanmar – 138, Indonesia – 159, Singapore – 165, Malaysia – 167, Cambodia – 172, Laos – 184, Brunei – 195 and Timor-Leste – 196.
Asia’s best-ranked team is still Iran, who moved up seven places to reach the 22nd spot. Overall, Belgium still lead the rankings, followed by France, Brazil, Croatia, and England.
With the current 16th position in Asia, Vietnam could be in the second seeded groups for the World Cup 2022’s Second Round which is scheduled to take place between April 2019 and April 2020. Six qualified teams of the First Round and 34 top Asian Football Confederation (AFC) teams will be drawn into eight groups. Each group will consist of five teams. Matches will be played in Round-robin format, meaning that every team will face every other team of the group on home and away turfs.
Vietnam’s remarkable rise that should be learned
John Duerden from the world’s famous sports channel ESPN said that Vietnam has made remarkable achievements over the past year and should be a lesson for regional teams like Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines to learn.
Nguyen Cong Phuong (10) and his playermates celebrate a goal. Photo: Foxsports
He said that by being the only team flying the ASEAN flag in the quarterfinal stages of the AFC Asian Cup 2019, it’s not only great for Vietnam but good for the region.
Indeed, it was not that long ago when Vietnamese football was something of a mess with corruption and financial mismanagement. But a focus on youth development and the installation of a structure to that end has been key.
Much of that toil has been done behind the scenes at academies in the country. Before that it was not easy to persuade V-League clubs to buy into the long-term game. Such joined-up thinking has not always been common in the region.
This new generation of Vietnamese players are a dedicated, enthusiastic group that have no reason to fear any other team in the confederation.
Coach Park Hang-seo has played a part. Nobody who watched his unremarkable tea in South Korea would have expected that the bespectacled coach would become a hero in the country. This Vietnamese team is the fittest in Southeast Asia and works harder than it has ever done.
Rarely has a nation took such joy in Asian success. There is no secret, just patience and hard work -- a formula that can be replicated in places like the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia, the expert said.