Vietnam and Iran enter this AFC Asian Cup match with contrasting mindsets as the Golden Dragons will want to bounce back from their 3-2 loss to Iraq while Iran will look to maintain their fine form after a 5-0 hammering of Yemen.
Vietnam’s play merited at least a point against Iraq but they ended up with nothing to show for their efforts. They cannot afford a repeat of that against high flying Iran, who will be themselves looking to secure qualification with another victory.
Here are 5 key facts that you need to know heading into their group D match.
1) Always a first
Vietnam and Iran have never before faced off at the Asian Games and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess who will be favourites on paper.
Iran have a rich history associated with the tournament and have won it thrice in the past. Vietnam, on the other hand, have finished fourth twice – back in 1956 and 1960 – and made it to the quarter finals in the 2007 edition of the tournament.
However, the Golden Dragons will have the momentum of their successful AFF Suzuki Cup tournament on their side heading into the contest.
2) Vietnam need to set the record straight
Vietnam have lost their last three Asian Cup games, conceding nine goals with three of them coming against Iraq in their opening Group d match. In contrast, they were unbeaten in their first two Asian Cup games in 1956, conceding just once.
Vietnam have had a chequered past in the tournament, alternating between failing to qualify and embarking on decent runs that have seen them get past the group stages every time they did manage to qualify.
They will need a victory against Iran to continue that trend.
3) Impressive Iran
Iran have racked up 8 group stage victories on the trot and one more against Vietnam will earn them a spot in the record books as the team with the highest number of consecutive group stage wins.
On paper, that’s a formidable record for Vietnam to come up against. But games are hardly played on paper, are they?
4) A rich vein of form
The defeat against Iraq, quite literally, was a one off for Vietnam. Before Ali Adnan’s 90th minute freekick relegated them to defeat, Vietnam had remained undefeated in 18 international games – a run stretching back to December of 2016.
All records are meant to be ended, but they would surely be hoping to return to winning ways against Iran.
5) A daunting task for Vietnam
But the desire to win and actually winning are two completely different things. And Vietnam would need to overcome the near impregnable nature of Iran’s defence if they hope to get anything out of the game.
Iran have maintained a clean sheet in six Asian Cup group stage games on the trot, and conceded a grand total of one goal in their last eight.
A steep task awaits Vietnam.
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