January 24 – Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu has praised his counterpart Park Hang-seo as Vietnam prepare to take on the four-time winners in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup. The underdogs feel confident they can a surprise.
Moriyasu’s Japan proved too strong for Saudi Arabia in the round of 16 with a fine defensive and disciplined display. The Vietnamese took the hard route and booked their place in the last eight after edging Jordan on penalties.
This is only Vietnam’s second participation in the Asian Cup in the modern age after reaching the quarterfinals on home soil in 2007. In the group stage they lost 4-1 to Japan.
Vietnam have spent a lot of time in the wilderness, but have come surging back with their tournament run in the UAE which has been based on attacking pace, high work rate and packing players into the action areas, and a fair helping of grit.
“The head coach [Park] is building a good team and they have very good results in international tournament,” praised Moriyasu of his opponents. “The previous coach [Toshiya] Miura was Japanese and also had good results. “We respect Vietnam, but at the same time we will do our best to make sure we win.”
The Japanese have not been entirely convincing in the UAE though have four consecutive victories, each by a single goal – they have often been wasteful in front of goal.
They will be expected to dominate against Vietnam, who have recorded the lowest possession figures of any team left in the Asian Cup (48.6%), but may struggle with their opponents’ high pressure approach.
The Vietnamese will have watched Japan on video, confident of upsetting their more illustrious rivals. Luong Xuan Truong told his Vietnam teammates to forget about reputations and make history against Japan today. “We are very happy right because we made another piece of history for Vietnamese football,” said the Vietnamese midfielder. “(The game against Jordan) was amazing. I hope we can keep playing in the same way against (Japan), and hope we can make more history for Vietnam.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1571642984labto1571642984ofdlr1571642984owedi1571642984sni@o1571642984fni1571642984