2018 finalists Vietnam find themselves in a precarious position as they head into the final matchday in Group D of the AFC U23 Championship 2020 being held in Thailand.
Only top two teams from each group will make it to the quarterfinals of the continental championship, but Vietnam are currently third in their group behind group toppers United Arab Emirates (UAE) and second-placed Jordan.
Nick Kyrgios – Australian Open 2020 Profile
They were held to goalless draws by both UAE and Jordan in their first two outings and will now face the already-eliminated DPR Korea in their final outing on January 16 while UAE and Jordan battle each other in the other fixture.
UAE top the group with four points and a goal difference of +2 while Jordan have the same number of points but only a goal difference of +1. Vietnam are third with two points and a goal difference of 0 while the North Koreans are still without a point after two games.
This means that the ASEAN side not only have to ensure a victory against DPR Korea in their final group match, but also want the result in the UAE vs Jordan match to go their way as well in order to reach the knockout stages.
Kiki Bertens – Australian Open 2020 Profile
The most straightforward scenario in which Park Hang-seo’s men can progress is if they defeat DPR Korea and there is a win for either UAE or Jordan in the other match meaning that Vietnam will progress as the runners-up from Group D.
However, things will be complicated if Vietnam win and UAE and Jordan play out a draw (all three teams will be on five points in this scenario) as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) takes into account points and goals scored from head-to-head matches between the tied teams before considering goal difference and goals scored in all of the group matches.
In this scenario, the Golden Dragons can only progress if they can defeat DPR Korea by a scoreline of 2-0 or better and UAE and Jordan play out a 0-0 draw. If UAE and Jordan play a score draw, no victory — no matter by how big a margin — against the North Koreans will save Vietnam from elimination.
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Hence, Vietnam can only progress to quarterfinals in the following four scenarios:
1) If they win against DPR Korea while UAE or Jordan win in the other fixture, Vietnam will progress as the runners-up in Group D.
2) If they win against DPR Korea by a margin of two goals or more and UAE and Jordan play a 0-0 draw, Vietnam will progress with a better goal difference than Jordan.
3) If they win against DPR Korea by a one-goal margin but score three goals or more and UAE and Jordan play a 0-0 draw, Vietnam will progress thanks to scoring more goals than Jordan in the group stages.
4) If Vietnam win 2-1 against DPR Korea and UAE and Jordan play a 0-0 draw, Vietnam will progress if they receive fewer yellow cards than Jordan.