The Path to The World Cup: what is ahead for the Golden Star Warriors?

After more than a year since Vietnam’s coronation at the 2018 Suzuki Cup and its thrilling journey in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, Vietnamese football fans once again have a chance to cheer on their national team in the upcoming rounds of the World Cup Qualifiers set in early June this year.

Competing in the World Cup has been the hope and dream of countless generations of Vietnamese soccer players, coaches, and fans alike. So how close are we to the world stage, and what is ahead for our team in the upcoming process?

The Vietnamese National Team at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Photo Credit: FIFA

The key for those answers lies in understanding how the World Cup qualification is structured, and the preparedness of the national team. At the moment, Vietnam is at the top of Group G in the AFC Confederation Qualification at 11 points ahead of Malaysia, Thailand, UAE and Indonesia with 9, 8, 6 and 0 points respectively. This position gives Vietnam an easier time in the upcoming round, where the team only need to secure 2 wins out of the 3 upcoming matches for a ticket to the final qualifying round. Reflecting this advantageous position, Nguyen Sy Hien, head of the Vietnamese team, told reporters that the team is focusing on “winning games” and “securing a berth in the third round” of the World Cup qualifier.

Vietnam is currently the head of Group G after a successful run in the World Cup qualifiers before the suspension of the qualifiers due to COVID-19. Photo Source: FIFA

Recent news on the lineup also gives reason for his hope as the well-praised defender Doan Van Hau is set to soon rejoin the team after recovering from an injury while the young forward Nguyen Tien Linh received praises from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

“Topping the group standings are Vietnam, unbeaten in their first five games”, wrote the AFC, “The 2019 AFC Asian Cup quarter finalists have amassed 11 points, with the highlight of their campaign being a famous 1-0 home victory against the UAE, thanks to a Nguyen Tien Linh strike”.

The young star Nguyen Tien Linh is expected to be a key figure for Vietnam in the upcoming qualifiers. Photo Credit: VietnamNet

While it seems that Vietnamese fans have a lot to hope for, other news brings worries to both players and fans alike. Dang Van Lam, who is often credited as Vietnam’s number one goalkeeper, is set to miss the upcoming qualifiers after a teammate in his Japanese club contracted COVID-19. Without the trusted gatekeeper, Vietnam is therefore forced to choose between Nguyen Van Hoang, Bui Tan Truong, and Nguyen Van Tan. While this is a sure chance for these keepers to prove their talents, Vietnamese fans surely have reasons to worry about in the upcoming matches.

Dang Van Lam, widely regarded as Vietnam’s best goalkeeper, is set to miss the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Photo Credit: Vietnam Football Federation

Regardless of whatever the circumstances may be, it is undoubtedly true that Vietnam’s ticket to the 2022 World Cup is still wide open for the taking. With the proven passion of both players on the field and fans at home alike, Vietnam has ample reason to be confident for a fruitful run with its goal of two wins in the upcoming matches.

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