Vietnam Triumph in Asian U23 Tournament Opener

Despite a lackluster team performance, Vietnam's individual brilliance and their opponents' blunders gifted them with a hard-fought victory.

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Vietnam’s U23 national football team defeated Kuwait 3-1 on April 17 in their first match of the AFC U-23 Asian Cup 2024.

 Vietnam U-23 players celebrate their first goal against Kuwait. Photo: Vietnam Football Federation

Both teams played a lackluster match. Vietnam’s most dangerous attacking midfielder, Nguyen Dinh Bac, left the game with an injury in the 6th minute.

Kuwait’s Ebrahim Marzouq was sent off with a red card in the 32nd minute for a deliberate kick to the thigh of Khuat Van Khang.

Striker Nguyen Van Tung broke the deadlock for Vietnam in the first minute of first-half stoppage time, beating the offside trap.

A minute later, winger Abdul Karam was fouled in the box by left centre-back Nguyen Ngoc Thang.

The referee took six minutes to consult with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). He showed Thang a red card and awarded Kuwait a penalty.

Kuwait’s Salman Al-Awadi equalized with a well-taken penalty in the ninth minute of extra time.

Two minutes into the second half, substitute striker Bui Vi Hao scored Vietnam’s second goal in the 47th minute, capitalizing on a poor clearance by Kuwait goalkeeper Ali Marzouq.

Vietnam controlled the match until the end. Hao scored his second goal of the match to seal a 3-1 victory in the 76th minute.

Kuwait had a few chances, but their players were too exhausted to keep up with the play.

Vietnam moved to the top of Group D with the win over Kuwait. Uzbekistan is in second place after winning 2-0 against Malaysia the day before.

Room for improvement

Despite the win, most Vietnamese football fans were disappointed with the performance of their players.

Vietnam could not control the tempo or possession until the referee sent off a Kuwait player in the 32nd minute.

Even with the one-man advantage, the Vietnamese players struggled to connect with each other and make quality passes.

The communication between the lines and between the goalkeeper and the defenders was poor. In some cases, they did not communicate with each other, allowing the opposition to play dangerous balls.

With this performance, the upcoming match against Malaysia will be a difficult one for Vietnam, as both teams are familiar with each other’s style of play.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Vietnam head coach Hoang Anh Tuan said he was not satisfied with the team’s overall performance.

“I am happy with the result. The players were not confident in the first half, so they did not play their best and made the game more difficult than it should have been,” he said. “The red card at the end of the first half showed that our players were not confident enough.

Tuan said he was not impressed with the opposition and criticized the players for not performing up to expectations.

The head coach refused to reveal his tactical approach and preparations for their next match against Malaysia on Sunday (April 20).

“We need the best result,” said Tuan, referring to a win over Malaysia. “We hope to play better in the future.