FIFA World Cup 2022 second qualifying round - Asia Zone

Impressed Van Lam helps Vietnam earn valuable point against hosts Thailand

Friday, 2019-09-06 16:06:31
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Keeper Van Lam and his teammates stood up to the pressure from the Thais to earn a valuable point in the goalless away draw last night. (Photo: AFC)
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NDO – Vietnam had a tough but worthy goalless away draw against hosts Thailand on September 5 evening, in which goalkeeper Dang Van Lam showed a stable performance to help coach Park Hang Seo's team win an important point.

>>> Park Hang-seo thanks players after away draw against Thailand

>>> Vietnam play out goalless draw against Thailand

Opening the second qualifying round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup - Asia Zone with a draw is not a bad result, especially when looking back on the match, hosts Thailand made their debut for new Japanese coach Akira Nishino and overwhelmed the visitors at Thammasat Stadium and also created a range of scoring opportunities. However, Southeast Asian champions Vietnam with their great spirit and disciplined playstyle under the direction of Korean coach Park played a good match in both defence and attack. In particular, Russian-born goalkeeper Van Lam was stable in the wooden frame, helping the Vietnamese defensive line stand firm until the last seconds of the match.

It was Van Lam who saved the Vietnamese team in the last minute of the injured time. Without the 1993-born keeper in the wooden frame, perhaps Vietnam would have to leave Thammasat empty-handed. Witnessing the fast reflexes of Van Lam when he proactively intercepted Supachok, the prestigious sports network FOX Sports Asia gave praise to the goalkeeper.

In this situation, after right-back Van Thanh missed the ball, Supachok broke into the box to face Van Lam. Proactively leaving his goal, the goalkeeper fell into Supachok’s running path, forcing the attacking midfielder to push the ball away and narrow his own shooting angles. Author Adwaidh Rajan in the article wrote: " Vietnam fans, players and coaching staff had hearts in their throats in the second-half added time when Supachok Sarachat was played through on goal. The Thai had escaped the Vietnamese backline with only goalkeeper Dang Van Lam to beat. He did manage to round the Vietnamese custodian too, but dragged himself a bit wide of the goal. He recovered well to fire a shot on goal from a tight angle, but Van Lam and Vietnam defence somehow got back in time to deny the hosts a late, late winner!”

Supachok collapses after Van Lam refuses him to earn the Thai team the winning goal in the last minute of injury time. (Photo: Getty Images)

Immediately after being rounded by Supachok, Van Lam reacted well to cover the goal and successfully pushed away Supachok's shot, saving the visitors from conceding a late goal. If Supachok succeeded, Park and his players would have to accept defeat in the same way that Thailand had lost to Vietnam 1-0 in the King's Cup last June, by a late winner in the fourth minute of the injured time by veteran striker Nguyen Anh Duc. Not only excellent in this situation, Van Lam also proved his talent throughout the match with a series of impressive saves.

Against the hosts who were determined to beat Park’s side, it is understandable as Vietnam were somewhat inferior as they had to choose to play defensively. Even so, the visitors had their chances. The proactive counter-attack stance of the “Golden Stars” was praised by FOX Sports, in which Gabriel Tan commented: “Vietnam looked a much more settled outfit and could have taken the lead inside the opening minute following a lapse in concentration by the opposition but Nguyen Van Toan could only drag his shot wide.”

At the end of the second half, the Hoang Anh Gia Lai’s striker had another chance but the No. 9 missed again. In a report by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the continental football govern body proved quite regretful for Van Toan's missed chance in the 80th minute mark: “Their moment looked to have arrived when Van Toan got in behind the defence with just over 10 minutes remaining, but, with a desperate Theerathon Bunmathan for company, he was unable to control the ball sufficiently to produce an effort on goal.”

“The result stretches Thailand’s winless run on home soil to five matches, meaning Nishino’s charges will travel to Jakarta for what already looms as a pivotal clash against Indonesia on Tuesday, while Vietnam will return to action against Malaysia on October 10,” the AFC said. The "War Elephants" do not have much time to rest, as they will have to meet hosts Indonesia next Tuesday. The Vietnamese national team will be allowed to drop the second matchday until the third one, as they will welcome Malaysia at Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium on October 10, before encountering hosts Indonesia in Jakarta five days later.

Do Hung Dung (R) did a great job of blocking the Thai maestro Chanathip Songkrasin, making the star midfielder almost "disappear" during the match. (Photo: NDO/Minh Duc)

Despite almost throwing his strongest team onto the field, Thailand’s new coach Nishino still could not win against Vietnam as declared before the match. Witnessing the home team forced to share points in a goalless draw, Nishino himself and the Thai media did not hide their disappointment. "We aim to win every home match. But today, the team has only one point. The result is really disappointing but we still have to keep fighting," Nishino said as quoted by the Football Association of Thailand (FAT).

"In the first half, Vietnam made it difficult for us to penetrate their defensive line. We are constantly moving, depleting the physical strength of Vietnamese players and have created many opportunities," the 64-year-old strategist expressed regret. "Vietnam are Thailand's direct competitors but the focus now is on the next match against Indonesia. We still have many problems that need to be improved, especially in the attack," Nishino said.

Being held at home, surely the "War Elephants" will face disadvantages as playing guests in the second matchday at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta. After the match, Thai-Lan press expressed dissatisfaction when the home team only got a 0-0 draw against Vietnam. In the article "Nishino debuted! Thailand cannot beat Vietnam in the opening match of the World Cup qualifiers" by Siamsport, the author said that the 4-4-2 diagram then flexibly changed to 4- 1-2-1-2 with the virtual strikers chosen by the Japanese coach not enough to create a breakthrough. Although Thailand overwhelmed the visitors and had many opportunities, they were still helpless against the tight defence of the Vietnamese team, even when Nishino launched striker Supachai Jaided in the second half to strengthen their attack.

The Thai media expresses disappointment as their home team were forced to a goalless draw by Park Hang-seo’s side. (Screenshots capture)

Sharing the same opinion, the Bangkok Post said: “The War Elephants dominated the match but they could not break the solid defence of the visitors, who were determined to earn at least a point from the home team.” The English daily also expressed regret: “Thailand's best chance came during closing seconds as Supachok Sarachat had only Vietnam goalkeeper Dan Van Lam to beat but he could not put the ball into the net.”

“The result meant Thailand, once regarded as the kings of Southeast Asian football, have been winless against Vietnam this year at all levels and in both genders,” Bangkok Post bitterly commented.

Wrapping up the first matchday of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian second qualifying round, Malaysia are temporarily leading Group G with three points after a 3-2 victory over hosts Indonesia on Thursday, followed by Vietnam and Thailand with both one point. In the second matchday four days later, favourites UAE will have their opener against hosts Malaysia, while Indonesia – who are temporarily at the bottom – will welcome Thailand at home.

Group G standings after the first matchday.

TRUNG HUNG