Friendly match exposes huge gap between Vietnam and U-20 World Cup contenders


Updated : 05/11/2017 11:55 GMT + 7

Vietnam’s 1-4 loss in a home friendly against Argentina on Wednesday is a reminder that the Vietnamese are way behind other contenders for the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup, Argentina’s head coach counseled.

The clash in Ho Chi Minh City was both teams’ last preparation for the FIFA tournament, scheduled to take place later this month in South Korea, the first-ever World Cup appearance for the Golden Stars.

The loss was no surprise for Vietnam fans, who were well aware that defeating their South American visitors, celebrated for clinching six championships in 14 tournament appearances, would be a long shot.

Though the hosts played a heavy defense, the young Argentines netted an easy opening goal in the 29th minute and followed it up with three more in the second half. Vietnam earned a consolation goal in the 89th minute.

Argentine's Ezquiel Ponce celebrates after scoring the opener.

All four of Argentina’s goals came after stopping an attack attempt by the Vietnamese and launching a quick counterattack.

Vietnamese fans had viewed the friendly as an opportunity for head coach Hoang Anh Tuan to prove to home supporters that he would be heading to South Korea with a trustworthy squad; an opportunity that went unanswered as many of the team’s best players were benched from the match due to injuries.

Still, supporters might find hope in strikers Ha Duc Chinh and Tran Thanh. Chinh scored the consolation goal with a good assist from Thanh.

Speaking at the post-match conference, Argentina’s coach Claudio Ubeda hailed the hosts’ performance, but advised that they focus on continued improvement and narrowing the gap between Vietnam U-20s and other World Cup qualifiers.

The Argentine coach spoke highly of midfielder Luong Hoang Nam, calling him the Vietnamese man of the match.

Vietnam’s coach Hoang Anh Tuan admitted that his players have many things to do to prepare for the World Cup.

“This loss is a lesson learned for my players. They now know how strong their rivals at the Cup will be,” Tuan said.

The coach said pressure from the match was partly to blame for the crushing defeat.

“Without such psychological pressure, Vietnam might still have lost the game, but not as badly.”

Vietnam's Duc Chinh celebrates after scoring the consolation goal.

The 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup will run from May 20 to June 11, with newcomers Vietnam sharing Group E with France, Honduras, and New Zealand. 

Coach Tuan once said he is confident his team will post positive results in matches against Honduras and New Zealand, allowing Vietnam to advance in the competition as one of the best third-placed teams.

Vietnam booked their historic World Cup berth in South Korea by finishing in the top four at last year’s AFC U-19 Championship in Bahrain, which doubled as the Asian Football Confederation’s qualifier for the World Cup.

The three other Asian teams to secure a spot were Iran, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.

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