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Jun 16, 2021 / 03:19

World Cup 2022: Vietnam advance to final Asian qualifying round, first time in history

The Golden Dragons made the impressive fightbacks and almost wrote the late drama for the home team though it was led 3-0 most of the match.

Vietnam has for the first time in its history qualified for the Third and Final Round of the FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, the unique Southeast Asian team entering this stage.

 Vietnam advance final round of the 2022 World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Photo: VNA

The Golden Dragons bag 17 points after eight matches, including five wins, two draws, and one loss 2-3 to the host UAE at Zabeel Stadium in Dubai, UAE on June 16.

The result enables the team to qualify for the final round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. 

In the match with the home team, Vietnam ran into an inspired UAE team that mastered the midfield with their range of passing, unlike the team that likes to play possession-based football with their speedy and skillful players tormenting opponents with their crisp one-twos.

In the 32nd minute, the UAE drew first blood as the central midfielders combined. Abdullah Ramadan made a searching ball over the top to find Ali Salmeen who made a comfortable kick to settle the ball into the net.

Eight minutes later, the home team doubled the scores from a penalty which is believed to result from goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong’s foul against Abdullah Al-Naqbi. The mistake leading to the penalty remained controversial.

The third goal for the UAE came just five minutes after halftime. But the home team survived the late drama to book their place in the final round of qualifiers after Vietnam made the late fightbacks, not to mention an uncounted penalty that Vietnam should be given after Nguyen Cong Phuong was fouled by two UAE defenders in the 61st minute.

 Nguyen Tien Linh opened the goal for Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Khanh/Tuoi Tre

Indeed, being led 3-0 never let the Vietnamese players down. Nguyen Tien Linh scored a superb goal in the 85th minute before Tran Minh Vuong gave the UAE a scare in the 93rd minute with the team’s second goal.

Addressing the post-match press conference, Vietnam coach’s assistant Lu Dinh Tuan said “With the result of advancing the third round, the whole Vietnamese team should be proud of what have never been done. We have brought the Vietnamese spirit through the recent matches, introducing to the world the spirit of ‘never giving up.”

UAE coach Bert van Marwijk said he told his players from the very beginning that the match against Vietnam would not be an easy task. He said it could be the best match for the UAE.

Commentator Ta Bien Cuong of the Vietnam Television (VTV) gave some words to the Golden Dragons: “We lost a match but we win the round.”

Giving the post-match comment, Vietnamese journalist Minh Hai said Vietnam's overshadowed by the home team in the first half but its strong will and determination enabled it to make the impressive fightbacks.

Inspiringly, the Vietnamese players are unbeaten in their last nearly 30 games across all competitions. The sentiment and spirit of the Golden Dragons have maintained this impressive run of results, earning love from its supporters as before.

The second best enables Vietnam to compete for the Third Round with 11 other teams which is scheduled between September 2021 and March 2022.

 Tran Minh Vuong doubles the score in the 93rd minute. Photo: Nguyen Khanh/Tuoi Tre

Match preview

The second-placed UAE faced a must-win situation to qualify for the next round while “Vietnam have enjoyed a superb run in the qualifiers” as Sportskeeda described.

In November 2019, the UAE lost 1-0 to Vietnam at My Dinh National Stadium, Hanoi in the Second Round, the Asia Qualifiers. But it is still among the second strongest teams in Asia, only after candidates like Japan, South Korea, Iran, and Australia.

Gabriel Tan, Football Editor, FOX Sports Asia, put high hope on the Golden Dragons, saying that the Vietnamese could arguably surpass all achievements it grasped before [ranked runner-up of the AFC U-23 Championship in January 2018, won the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, crowned SEA Games Champions in 2019, entered AFC Asian Cup Quarter-final].

“Anything other than defeat to the Emiratis will seal the top spot in Group G of the second round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and secures progress to the final stage for the first time ever -- along with a guaranteed berth at the next Asian Cup in 2023,” he said confidently in an article posted on ESPN.

He went on to say that for an unfancied Southeast Asian nation like Vietnam, qualifying for the World Cup would “already be a huge achievement.” “If anyone is going to do it, it would be the golden generation.”