The group stage action of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 came to an end the other day giving the Vietnam fans nail-biting moments as they tuned into find out whether their team would make it to the knockout stages of the competition.
Vietnam did make it to the Round of 16, but only just as they were tied on points and goals with Lebanon for the final spot for the best third-placed team. However, a better disciplinary record was what helped them book a spot in the next round.
Drawn in Group D with two heavyweights of Asian football in Iran and Iraq as well as debutants Yemen, Vietnam did just enough to achieve their objective and set up a Round of 16 tie against Jordan on January 20.
But before that, let’s take a look at which Vietnam players made the most passes in the group stages of the tournament.
5) Nguyen Trong Hoang (111 passes)
Nguyen Trong Hoang is a vital cog in this Vietnam engine running up and down the right flank helping in both defence and attack. The 29-year-old who plays for SLNA FC made 111 passes in the three group stage matches against Iraq, IR Iran and Yemen of which 80 of them were successful. It was one such marauding run from the right wing-back that led to Nguyen Cong Phuong’s goal against Iraq as Trong Hoang danced into the penalty area before firing a shot that was turned in on the rebound by CP10.
4) Bui Tien Dung (125 passes)
Bui Tien Dung was brought into the squad to fill in the hole left by the impressive Tran Dinh Trong who played a key role in helping Vietnam win the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018, but had to sit out the Asian Cup due to an injury. Tien Dung was thrown straight into action by Park Hang-seo slotting in that three-man central defence with Que Ngoc Hai and Do Duy Manh in the biggest football tournament in Asia. And the youngster did not disappoint. He was not only solid at the back, but also made 125 passes at a success rate of 74.4 per cent.
3) Que Ngoc Hai (135 passes)
The captain was overseeing Vietnam building from the back and finished the group stages with 135 passes to his name. His pass success rate has been impressive as well standing at 79.3 per cent. Ngoc Hai, who recently switched to Viettel FC, also converted from the penalty spot to double Vietnam’s advantage against Yemen and seal a spot in the Round of 16 for the Golden Dragons.
2) Do Hung Dung (138 passes)
Do Hung Dung has been impressive for Vietnam in their midfield destroying opposition attacks and initiating his team’s counters. The Hanoi FC mideo made 138 passes in three appearances and completed 107 of them at a success rate of 77.5 per cent. 25-year-old Hung Dung averaged 46 passes every 90 minutes.
1) Nguyen Quang Hai (139 passes)
NGUYEN QUANG HAI orchestrates Vietnam’s opening goal at the AFC Asian Cup 2019
Pipping Hung Dung to the top spot by a single pass is none other than Vietnam’s starlet Nguyen Quang Hai. The 21-year-old attempted 139 passes and got 107 of them right at a success rate of 77 per cent. Quang Hai also made three key passes during the 270 minutes he was on the pitch and also scored from a direction free kick as the Golden Dragons booked their spot in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Yemen on match day 3.
(Stats via OPTA)