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Qatar tribune



Head coach Philippe Troussier believes his Vietnam side has shown a lot of improvement despite being eliminated from the group stage of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 ahead of their final Group D game against Iraq on Wednesday.

The Golden Star Warriors go into the match at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium with no points to their name, having fallen to a 4-2 defeat against Japan before being edged 1-0 by Indonesia in the second match; a result which meant even a win against the Lions of Mesopotamia cannot take them out of fourth place.

“Before our game against Iraq, we are already out of the competition on head-to-head. It is a pity, but that is what it is,” said Troussier.

“We have two main motivations; one is to respect and honour our flag and our nation and present a good image of Vietnamese football against Iraq, and the other is that we have in the near future a big challenge, which is the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2026 where we have two important matches against Indonesia home and away in March, and this match is a great opportunity to prepare for these two games.”

“Even though we lost both games, I can see a lot of improvement especially in maturity in terms of control of the ball and not being afraid. Against Indonesia I saw a great character that my players don’t give up, and that is a spirit we need tomorrow again.

“When the Vietnam Football Federation hired me, it was during the World Cup qualifiers when Vietnam lost eight games in a row against the top teams in Asia. The target is to implement a new strategy to face the top 10 teams in the continent and that’s why I’m here now.

“We have to change the mentality of the players, we have to select players who are not afraid to control the ball and face big teams. We are in this process, but unfortunately, the Asian Cup came too early for us.”

For Iraq, the match presents an opportunity to end the group stage with the full nine points for the first time in their history and to secure the top spot ahead of Japan, but head coach Jesus Casas also sees it as an opportunity to continue improving.

The Lions of Mesopotamia started their journey with a 3-1 victory over Indonesia, before stunning Japan 2-1 in the second match to book their place in the Round of 16.

“When you are on the field, all players want to win, that includes both teams, so it will be a difficult game for sure,” said Casas.

“I think it is an important match. Regardless of the fact we are already qualified, all matches are important for us because we can improve each time.

“We need to show our best performance and best style. In football, all teams want to win. Vietnam will want to win too.”

“My players are intelligent. They know it was an important victory for them and for the Iraqi people, but we know that is in the past already. The focus now is about Vietnam. They know if a player is still thinking about Japan or any other match, they will not play with me.

“It’s normal that the fans are thinking about our last big victory in 2007, but this is a different tournament and a difficult one. There are a lot of big teams like Japan, (Islamic Republic of) Iran and Korea Republic who are all favourites, but all we can do is fight to win.”

“It is true that Vietnam lost their first two matches, but I was in the stadium for their game against Japan and they were very close to getting a positive result.”Iraq v Vietnam, Kick-off: 2:30pm

Venue: Jassim Bin Hamad StadiumKey Factors

Iraq v vietnam

Advantage Iraq: Vietnam have lost both their previous AFC Asian Cup meetings with Iraq; Japan are the only side the Golden Star Warriors have played more often without registering a win or a draw (P3 L3) in competition history.

Record-run bid: A win against Vietnam will give Iraq three consecutive victories at the AFC Asian Cup for the first time.

Favourite opponentscColor:> Iraq have scored five goals in their two AFC Asian Cup encounters with Vietnam, including a 3-2 win in 2019 – only against Thailand (8) and Islamic Republic of Iran (6) have they scored more often in competition history.

SharpcTypeface:> Bui Hoang Viet Anh has made nine interceptions in Qatar 2023, the second highest by any Vietnam player in a single edition since 2007; only Huy Hoang Nguyen (10 in 2007) has recorded more in a single season (2007) in the same timeframe.

Pass masterscColor:> Iraq’s Saud Natiq has made 18 successful long passes in the ongoing tournament, the highest among all outfield players of Group D; Nguyen Thanh Binh (10) is Vietnam’s best player in this category so far in this edition.

Leaking goals: Palestine have conceded 2.6 goals per game (18/7) in the AFC Asian Cup, more than any other side participating in the current edition, and have scored 0.3 goals per game (2/7) – only debutants Tajikistan (0/1) rank lower.

Mixed record: UAE have won four of their last seven AFC Asian Cup group stage matches (D2 L1) since 2015, as many as in previous 15 such games (D5 L6) from 1992 to 2011; they have outscored opponents 13-6 in those seven games.

History maker: Palestine’s Tamer Seyam scored with a header from free-kick against Islamic Republic of Iran last time out, which was the second ever goal for Palestine at the AFC Asian Cup, their first was also from a free-kick in 2015 scored by Jaka Ihbeisheh against Jordan.

Penalty kings

UAE have won and scored five penalties in the AFC Asian Cup since the beginning of the 2015 edition, the joint-most of any team alongside Japan (5/5); indeed, the UAE became the only team to win more than one penalty in a game in this period (two against Hong Kong, China on MD1)..

Hard to beat: Thailand have lost only two of their last six group stage games at the AFC Asian Cup (W2 D2) including a win and a draw in their last two such fixtures which saw them reach the Round of 16 stage at the 2019 tournament – the first time since 1972 that they reached the knockout stage.

Impressive debut: Kyrgyz Republic capped their AFC Asian Cup debut with a 3-1 win over the Philippines in the 2019 edition, a result which booked them a place in the Round of 16.

Sharp-eyed: Kyrgyz Republic made 14 interceptions per game in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, the second most of any team in the competition (Lebanon – 15) and three per game more than Thailand (11).

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