AFC Asian Cup 2019: Group Stage Report Card – Vietnam

Vietnam’s late qualification to the knockout stages of the AFC Asian Cup meant that two out of the three Southeast Asian teams had made it through. However, the Golden Dragons had to wait until the very last minutes of the group stage in order to discover their fate. But how did they fare over the course of the last three games? We take a look.

The Good

Nguyen Quang Hai: For the past year, Nguyen Quang Hai’s name seems to pop up everywhere with respect to Vietnamese football. In just a year’s time, the 21-year-old has gone on from starring at the youth level to starring for the senior side.

AFC Asian Cup 2019: Vietnam 1-0 Yemen – Nguyen Quang Hai (39′)

The youngster was recently named the MVP of the AFF Suzuki Cup as well, increasing his stock even further. And it seems after his performance in the AFC Asian Cup Group Stages, his value is heading only in one direction.

The 21-year-old forward was the brightest spark in an otherwise lacklustre Vietnam team throughout the Group Stages and even capped it with one of the best goals of this year’s tournament.

The Bad 

Negative Tactics: In all honesty, Vietnam’s ‘negative’ and overly defensive tactics are nothing new. The Golden Dragons have employed these for long and even lifted the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup with the help of the same. So why do they feature into the ‘bad’ column? Because so far in the AFC Asian Cup, they haven’t worked.

In fact, Vietnam conceded five goals in their opening two matches, having gone through the entire Suzuki Cup conceding just four.

The thing about such tactics is that when they work, you get to see a strong defensive side who can absorb pressure and break within seconds, creating some of the most lethal counterattacks. When they don’t work, however, all you’re left with is ten-men sitting deep in their own half.

Depleted Attack: Vietnam were left without veteran striker Nguyen Anh Duc for the AFC Asian Cup. Anh Duc had led the Golden Dragons from the front just a month ago. However, he was not picked by coach Park Hang-seo.

It seems with the loss of Anh Duc, Vietnam have lost a whole dimension in attack. The 33-year-old striker’s absence is clearly being felt by the Golden Dragons, who had to mostly resort to set-pieces in order to score.

The Verdict

C – ; When Lebanon’s third goal against DPR Korea went in last night, the whole of Vietnam must have come to a standstill. The Golden Dragons had to endure ten more minutes after which they’d learn their AFC Asian Cup fate. In the end, they just managed to squeeze through to the knockout stages, setting up a tie against Jordan.

However, the Jury is still out on the AFF Suzuki Cup champions, who have yet to show the form they displayed during the course of the last two months.