Vietnam are considered one of the 12 teams that have exceeded expectations this year, FIFA said in an article on its homepage.
The Golden Stars came last on the FIFA list of "12 national teams that surprised in 2019."
The Vietnamese men were honored for making “AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals for the first time” and winning “three consecutive FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time,” the international governing body of association football said.
In fact, Vietnam had qualified for the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 2007, when they co-hosted the continental tournament with Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
They lost 0-2 to Iraq, who later won the cup, in the quarterfinals in Bangkok on July 21. But the 2007 edition featured no round of 16.
In the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the UAE from January 5 to February 1, Vietnam were placed in Group D with Iran, Iraq, and Yemen.
The Vietnamese were defeated 2-3 by Iraq on January 8, lost 0-2 to Iran on January 12, and beat Yemen 2-0 on January 16 to advance to the round of 16.
They went on to subdue Jordan 4-2 on penalties after drawing 1-1 in 120 minutes on January 20 before suffering a marginal 0-1 defeat against giants Japan in the quarterfinals on January 24.
In Asia’s second round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, Vietnam are leading their Group G unbeaten, earning 11 points after five games, followed by Malaysia on nine points, Thailand on eight points, the UAE on six points, and Indonesia on zero points.
Vietnam held archrivals Thailand to a 0-0 draw in an away game on September 5, beating Malaysia 1-0 on home soil on October 10, crushing hosts Indonesia 3-1 on October 15, defeating heavyweights the UAE 1-0 at home on November 14, and earning one point in a goalless return draw against the Thais in Hanoi on November 19.
Algeria ranked first on the list after winning the Africa Cup of Nations, their first title in 29 years, after conceding no goals in the group stage. They were also the biggest mover in the July FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
Trailing behind were Haiti, who “reached Concacaf Gold Cup semifinals for the first time since 1981” and “pushed eventual winners Mexico into extra time.”
Iraq and Syria were next as “two war-torn countries” that “top their respective 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying groups.”
The Italy national women’s team followed on the list for “winning their group at FIFA Women’s World Cup ahead of Brazil and Australia” and ousting “China PR in the round of 16.”
South Korea U20s were then hailed for making it to “the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2019”, with “Lee Kangin awarded Adidas Golden Ball.”
FIFA also hailed Kosovo for coming “close to directly qualifying for UEFA EURO 2020” after beating “the Czech Republic 2-1” and scoring “three goals in England.”
Qatar were featured on the list for winning the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 2019 following their convincing 3-1 victory over Japan in the final on February 1.
The Netherlands national women’s team got in line thanks to their “second-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup” finale following a “flawless record in [the] group stage” and wins over Japan, Italy, and Sweden along their way.
Ukraine U20s were celebrated for winning the “FIFA U-20 World Cup for the first time ever” while Ukraine’s senior team came just before Vietnam for winning “their EURO 2020 qualifying group ahead of Portugal” and beating “the European champions 2-1 at home.”