Vietnam will face hosts Taiwan at the 2018 AFC Futsal Championship on Monday and need nothing but a win to qualify for the quarterfinals, a feat the country miraculously pulled off in association football last month.
Taiwan are Group A leaders with four points, followed by Vietnam and Malaysia with three points each.
The Golden Stars will secure a ticket to the knockout stage if they beat the hosts at 6:00 pm (Vietnam time) today.
Vietnam lost 1-2 to Malaysia in the event’s opener on February 1, before beating Bahrain 2-1 on Saturday.
|Vietnam (left) and Malaysia players fight for the ball during their match at the 2018 AFC Futsal Championship in Taiwan. Photo: AFC|
Taiwan have been a surprise at the competition as they drew 2-2 against Bahrain in the opener and defeated Malaysia 5-4 in the second game to top Group A.
Except for one-point Bahrain, all the other three contenders still have equal chances to advance, meaning Vietnam should make no mistake in the clash with Taiwan.
The Taiwan test is expected to be a tough one for the Golden Stars, even though they hold the upper hand over the hosts. Vietnam rank 55th on the world’s futsal tally, 21 notches above Taiwan.
Vietnam’s head coach Miguel Rodrigo has said he is satisfied with the team’s performance after two games at the event, and is not worried about the home advantage for Taiwan in the last group stage match.
“My players have got some experience on that in the 2017 Asian Indoor Games in Ashgabat,” he explained at a post-match conference on Saturday.
|Vietnam (right) and Bahrain players fight for the ball during their match at the 2018 AFC Futsal Championship in Taiwan. Photo: AFC|
Rodrigo was apparently referring to the last group stage game of the event held in Turkmenistan in September 2017, where Vietnam beat the hosts 1-0 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Futsal is a variant of association football (soccer) played on a hard court, smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors. It can be considered a version of five-a-side football.
The Vietnamese unexpectedly made it to the quarterfinals in association football, or 11-a-side football, at the AFC U23 Championship in China last month, before finishing the tournament as runners-up after losing 1-2 to Uzbekistan in an arctic-conditions finale on January 27.
|Vietnam (left) and Bahrain players fight for the ball during their match at the 2018 AFC Futsal Championship in Taiwan. Photo: AFC|
The 15th biennial AFC Futsal Championship is organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the men's national futsal teams of Asia. The reigning champions are Iran, who won 11 out of 14 editions ever held.
The tournament takes place between February 1 and 11 with a total of 16 teams in Taipei and New Taipei City.