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Vietnam to Face Japan in Asian Cup Quarterfinal This Thursday

Will a miracle happen to help Vietnam overcome Japan’s mighty “samurais”?

Last Sunday, Vietnam managed an impressive triumph over Jordan after rounds of penalties to advance to quarterfinals of AFC Asian Cup 2019. For local football fans, this victory might be reminiscent of the national team’s performance during the AFC U-23 tournament last year, when Vietnam beat Iraqand then Qatar, both during penalty shootouts, to make it to the final.

Though making the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup is not a new achievement — we managed that in 2007 —  the new generation of Golden Stars has shown through the matches that their advancement was based on skills, teamwork and sound mental preparation.

Looking forward, Vietnam will face Japan at 8pm (Vietnam time) this Thursday, January 24 for the tournament’s first quarterfinal match. Vietnam’s current batch of players is among the best in team history by any measure, but even so, a win against Japan might be a distant dream.

Japan belongs to Group F of Asian Cup 2019 alongside Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; and the East Asian team finished its group-stage matches with three wins while Vietnam only narrowly slipped into the Round of 16 thanks to a discipline advantage. Despite not performing at their best, Japan still beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 last night to advance.

All in all, it’s a tall order for Vietnam this coming Thursday in the battle against Japan, especially when the latter is entering the game with players who are currently playing for professional teams in Europe. Nonetheless, Vietnam — still pumped from the win over Jordan — will be playing sans pressure as many consider even getting the chance to face off against Japan an achievement in itself.

[Photo via The AFC]


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