After a dominant victory against China in their first match of phase three of World Cup qualifying, Australia will look to extend their nine game winning streak with a victory over Vietnam.
Fresh off a 3-1 defeat away against Saudi Arabia, the 92nd ranked team in world football will look to avenge their defeat with a resolute performance against the Socceroos on home soil in Hanoi.
The Vietnamese have been in good form throughout the qualifying process as they finished 2nd behind the United Arab Emirates in the 2nd round of qualifying, conceding just five goals in eight games.
Their only loss came against the UAE as they recorded five wins, two draws and a solitary loss on the way to 17 points, sealing their entry to the 3rd round.
While Vietnam may not possess the same firepower as the Socceroos on paper, they will look to use their home advantage as the 40,000 seat My Dinh National Stadium will play host to the encounter on Tuesday September 7.
Que Ngoc Hai (Viettel FC, Vietnam)
Captain of the Vietnamese national team, Ngoc Hai is a resolute defender with over 50 games of experience for the national team.
Known for his toughness and willingness to engage in physical battles, Ngoc Hai was suspended from all football activities for 6 months in 2015 after committing a reckless and dangerous challenge in a Vietnamese League (V-League) match.
The tackle caused an opposition player to suffer serious injury to his knee ligaments and his leg which unfortunately ended the player’s footballing career as a result. Ngoc Hai’s unashamed way of playing has led to him being named vice-captain of reigning V-League Champions Viettel FC who are based in the nation’s capital of Hanoi.
Ngoc Hai has spent the entirety of his career in the V-League and at the age of 28-years-old, is entering the prime of his career as he aims to lead his country to World Cup qualification.
Nguyen Quang Hai (Ha Noi FC, Vietnam)
Known as one of the best players that Vietnam has ever produced, Quang Hai is a fast winger with a fantastic eye for goal. Having made his national team debut at the age of 20, the skilled winger is now a permanent fixture of Vietnam’s starting XI and will look to be a nuisance on the counter attack.
Quang Hai also established himself as an up and coming youngster in the context of Asia after starring at the Asian Cup for Vietnam in 2019.
The then 21-year-old received recognition for his performances from AFC’s Technical Observers who named the Vietnamese winger in ‘The All Star Squad’ of the tournament alongside household Asian names like Iran’s Sardar Azmoun and Japan’s Maya Yoshida.
The winger is one of Vietnam’s most important players and opened the scoring in their defeat against Saudi Arabia with a well-taken left-footed strike from outside the box.
He will likely line up on the right wing and Australia will look to nullify his influence during the encounter.
Luong Xuan Truong (Hoang Anh Gia Lai, Vietnam)
One of Vietnam’s only player with overseas experience, Xuan Truong has had loan spells at Incheon United and Gangwon FC in South Korea’s K League 1 as well as a short loan stint in Thailand for Buriram United.
During his youth, the classy midfielder was accepted into an academy in Vietnam run by Arsenal Football Club and later received an invitation to train with Arsenal’s U-17 team after then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was impressed by some of his performances.
Now plying his trade again in Vietnam, Xuan Truong is known for his ability on set-pieces including a great technique with free-kicks.
The midfielder has great vision and passing and will look to supply the likes of Quang Hai in the final third. Equipped with 34 games of experience in the national team, Xuan Truong could prove to be a thorn in Australia’s side.
How will they line up?
Managed by South Korean Park Hang-seo, Vietnam have adopted a wide range of systems during their World Cup Qualifying campaign.
The team has experimented with variations of a 3-5-2 formation, however, they appear to have settled on a relatively traditional 4-3-3 shape that morphs into a 4-5-1 while defending.
Manager Park’s principles include ensuring that multiple players can get behind the ball to defend when the opponent has the ball and this was quite clear in Vietnam’s last game against Saudi Arabia where the team had just 28% possession.
They will look to absorb pressure for the majority of the game and then pick their opportunities to hurt Australia on the counter-attack.
As such, Vietnam offers a unique threat to the Socceroos as the Australians will likely be faced with a barrage of players sitting behind the ball looking to limit Australia’s efficiency going forward.
Park has ensured that Vietnam’s players are well-disciplined and trained to defend deep to frustrate the opposition.
These tactics worked very well against Saudi Arabia before the team’s hopes were derailed by a VAR decision that gave Saudi Arabia a penalty for handball and resulted in right-back Duy Manh Do to be sent off for a second yellow card.
After Al-Hilal superstar and Saudi Arabian legend Salem Al-Dawsari comfortably scored the penalty, Vietnam lost control of the game and swiftly conceded another 2 goals, thus resulting in a 3-1 away defeat.
Park will look to elicit a forceful response from his side as they seek qualification for their first ever FIFA World Cup. On the flip-side, Australia will look to make it two wins from two as they seek to kickstart their qualification process ahead of the two crucial October fixtures against Oman and Japan.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3)
Tan Truong; Tan Tai, Thanh Chung, Ngoc Hai, Van Thanh; Xuan Truong, Hoang Duc, Trong Hoang; Phan Van, Tien Linh, Quang Hai
The Socceroos take on Vietnam tomorrow at 10pm AEST.