04:30 PM: Hello everyone and welcome to Khel Now’s LIVE COVERAGE of Vietnam vs India match in Hung Thinh Friendly football tournament. The kick-off is just an hour away! I’m your host Uttiyo Sarkar, and I’ll be keeping you company through what promises a fascinating evening of football. Please wait for 30 Seconds for the Live blog to load.
Vietnam vs India: Build-up
India take on hosts Vietnam at Ho Chi Minh City’s Thong Nhat Stadium in a must-win encounter. Vietnam began proceedings in the Hung Thing friendly tournament with a 4-0 demolition of Singapore. On the other hand, an almost full-strength India looked rusty in their opening fixture, managing a paltry 1-1 draw against the lower-ranked Singapore. Coach Igor Stimac needs to go back to the drawing board, knowing fully well that he has very little time to set his team up against South-East Asia’s top-ranked nation.
The Blue Tigers were unlucky to concede the goal they did via a huge deflection from a free-kick. But were also guilty of squandering several scoring opportunities at the other end. While they escaped unpunished against Singapore, Vietnam wouldn’t be doing any such favours. Ranked 97th in the FIFA world rankings, Vietnam are gradually transforming into a football powerhouse in Asia.
India though will have fond memories of playing in Vietnam, having returned home with the LG Cup when they last toured the country in 2002. The Blue Tigers, then still trying to make their mark, shocked the hosts 3-1 in the final to lift the title. The LG Cup was India’s first major continental trophy since the Pesta Sukan meet in 1971.
Travelling with the first team to this friendly tournament is an indication that India are aiming to give a good account of themselves. Prior to arriving in Vietnam, the national team last played in June. The players were all on the same wavelength during the AFC Asian Cup third-round qualifiers as India scored eight goals and conceded just one across three fixtures.
The clash against Vietnam is a good chance for the players to get their camaraderie and optimism back, a factor that was severely lacking against Singapore.
Charismatic coach Park Hang-Seo has been the catalyst of Vietnam’s rapid rise in the FIFA rankings to 97th. Incidentally, Guus Hiddink’s former assistant coach Seo had also unsuccessfully applied for the Indian Football senior team’s head coach after the exit of Bob Houghton.
Coming off a decent showing in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Vietnam are hard to beat and possesses raw firepower up front. They will have their sights firmly set on the trophy. All Vietnam need is a draw against India to secure the Hug Thinh Friendly Tournament trophy. But one should expect Hang-Seo’s side to go all out for a win.