HÀ NỘI — Despite being out of running for a place at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Việt Nam captain Đỗ Hùng Dũng still sees the final qualifying match against Japan as an opportunity to make a statement.
In fact, what Việt Nam has done so far is more than enough as the team’s only victory against China made them the most successful South East Asia team to ever compete in the World Cup final qualification.
The 3-1 win at Mỹ Đình stadium is the first win for the region in this competition. Previously, Thailand entered the final qualifying round of the World Cup 2018 but only managed two draws.
Việt Nam still has one match to go and Dũng wants to enjoy the journey while it lasts.
“This is the final match so we are determined to do our best to leave a mark and have a farewell to be remembered,” Dũng said.
“We don’t always have the opportunity to play against a top-class team in Asia like Japan. The stronger the opponent, the more we can learn.”
Former captain Quế Ngọc Hải agrees, saying that the team might play better as there’s no more pressure on their shoulders.
“Obviously Japan is a very strong team, but we are not afraid to play against them,” said the 28–year–old defender.
“Coach Park has motivated us a lot, obviously the opponents in this round are very strong. But that’s not the reason for us to give up fighting and get points in each match.
“Japan has already qualified but they will not be caught off-guard. I think they’re going to use many key players. Despite Việt Nam being out of the World Cup, the whole team still needs to gain more experience for the 2023 Asian Cup.
“Việt Nam in the 2023 Asian Cup will certainly be a very different Việt Nam from the 2019 Asian Cup,” said the Sông Lam Nghệ An center-back.
Việt Nam has many players missing due to COVID-19 and injuries. Coach Park only has 20 players available for the game.
The shortage is particularly noticable in midfield where Việt Nam only have four platers available: Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, Đỗ Hùng Dũng, Lý Công Hoàng Anh and Nguyễn Quang Hải.
On the attack, the Golden Star Warriors won’t have the services of their number one striker Nguyễn Tiến Linh, as the 25- year-old striker suffered an injury in the 0-1 loss against Oman on Thursday.
From group B, Japan and Saudi Arabia have officially qualified for the 2022 World Cup, while Australia is through to the playoffs.
Việt Nam will face Japan on Tuesday at Saitama Stadium 2002. VNS