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Vietnam open Asian Cup qualifiers with draw against Afghanistan

Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 10:37 GMT+7

Vietnam made a respectable start to their 2019 Asian Cup final round qualifiers, producing a 1-1 away draw against Afghanistan on Tuesday night.

Despite it being a home game for Afghanistan, the Group C opener had to take place in Tajikistan - deemed a neutral venue - due to the unstable security situation in Afghanistan.

The Vietnamese were quick to dominate possession, but failed to launch an effective attack in the first 45 minutes.

In the 57th minute, striker Van Toan was brought in off the bench and needed only seven minutes to produce a strike that took Vietnam to a 1-0 lead.

Springing into life, the Afghans did not have to wait long for an equalizer, with Amin unleashing a perfectly struck half-volley from just outside the penalty area in the 68th minute.

Both sides then looked for a winner, but neither was able to score the decisive goal in the time remaining.

The final round qualifiers of the AFC Asian Cup are set to run between March 12, 2017 and March 27, 2018, and will see a two-legged competition of 24 teams, with only 12 slots available at the tournament to be held in the United Arab Emirates in early 2019.

The winners and runners-up of each of the six groups will secure a berth in the final competition.

Vietnam and Afghanistan are in Group C alongside Cambodia and Jordan, with expectations high the team can make it to the UAE. Vietnam will meet Afghanistan again in their second-leg game in Hanoi on November 14.

Before that the Golden Stars will play Jordan at home on June 13, and Cambodia on September 5, 2017, with the second-leg games taking place on March 27, 2018 and October 10, 2017 respectively.

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