Việt Nam lose to Japan in Asian Cup opener

The performance of the Golden Star Warriors earned praise from fans and critics alike, as Philippe Troussier’s men gave Asia’s No.1 team a run for their money.


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19-year-old Nguyễn Đình Bắc (15) was Việt Nam’s shining light in the game, providing an equaliser and was a thorn in the side of the Japanese defenders. VNA/

Theo Vietnamnews

Photo Hoàng Linh

Anh Đức

DOHA The Việt Nam national football team lost 2-4 against Japan in their first match of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

However, the performance of the Golden Star Warriors earned praise from fans and critics alike, as Philippe Troussier’s men gave Asia’s No.1 team a run for their money.

The emotional rollercoaster started with former Liverpool player Takumi Minamino opening the score for the Samurai Blue, before Nguyễn Đình Bắc and Phạm Tuấn Hải surprisingly turned the game on its head for Việt Nam. Minamino then equalised, before his teammate Keito Nakamura brought back the lead for Japan in the final moments of the first half.

Having been drawn in perhaps the tournament’s group of death, with World Cup regulars Japan and Iraq alongside regional rivals Indonesia, the task for Philippe Troussier and his young team was made even greater, owing to numerous amounts of injury as well as dismal recent results.

Troussier, who replaced the legendary Park Hang-seo as Việt Nam’s head coach just a year ago, is also the coach who brought Japan to the 2001 Asian Cup title.

Before the match, pundits were woeful of Việt Nam’s defence, and hoped that Troussier’s men would concede as few goals as possible to allow better chances of qualifying for the knockout stages.

And indeed, the pundits’ worries were true, as Japan found their opening goal with their first chance in the 12th minute. From a corner, Yukinari Sugawara’s shot was saved by the newly-naturalised Nguyễn Filip, but the Czech-born keeper could not keep out the rebounded shot from Minamino, who fired into the empty net.

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Staff and players celebrating Đình Bắc’s goal, whose effort draw comparison with Lê Công Vinh’s historic AFF Cup winning goal in 2008. VNA/

Theo Vietnamnews

Photo Hoàng Linh 

Việt Nam, however, did not falter, and immediately replied just five minutes later. Đỗ Hùng Dũng’s corner reached Đình Bắc, who headed backwards into Zion Suzuki’s net to equalise for Việt Nam.

A shellshocked Japan pushed forward to reclaim their lead but was denied by Filip’s heroic efforts. Việt Nam went in front in the 33rd minute, courtesy of Phạm Tuấn Hải, who tapped in the rebounded shot from a corner.

Hajime Moriyasu’s side, who are well-known for teamwork plays, found it difficult to pass around a disciplined Vietnamese defence and had to rely on two stellar plays to regain the lead.

Just one minute away from the break, Minamino was found free inside Việt Nam’s penalty area, and fired a shot into Filip’s net. Though Việt Nam’s No.1 got his hand to the ball, the shot was too powerful.

Four minutes after Minamino’s goal, Việt Nam’s defence again let a blue player through. Keito Nakamura dribbled past three Vietnamese defenders and fired a powerful shot into the top corner, giving Filip zero chance to seal Japan’s lead right at the end of the first half.

Both coaches brought on defensive-minded players after the break to slow down the match, and the second half was much less eventful than the first. Japan kept on dominating, but could only find their fourth goal in the 85th minute from Ayase Ueda’s spectacular effort. The match ended 4-2 for Japan, who would be happy with the quality displayed in attack.

For Việt Nam, the low-deficit defeat is somewhat acceptable, and the heroic efforts of the Golden Star Warriors against a continental titan gave hope for fans in this edition of the Asian Cup.

“Though the result was not what we hoped for, our team proved that in some moments we are able to play well against such a good team,” said captain Hùng Dũng after the final whistle.

There is still, however, much more work to do for Hùng Dũng and his team, before they face Indonesia on Friday in a pivotal do-or-die match. A victory would keep the hopes alive for Việt Nam, and a defeat equals an early exit from the tournament.

Theo Vietnamnews