Igor Stimac’s men were held by Singapore in their last match.

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.

The Stakes

India

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.

What they would want back is also their scoring boots. India wasted several opportunities to take the lead and then struggled to find the winner. As Singapore played for time in the second half, India found themselves in scoring positions multiple times. However, some shots were blasted into the stands, while some went straight at Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.

Vietnam

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.

Vietnam Vs India Team News

India’s center-back pairing of Sandesh Jhingan and Chinglensana Singh are available for this match after Visa issues prevented them from playing against Singapore. Vietnam will likely field a full-strength team.

Both teams have not reported any injury concerns.

Vietnam Vs India Head-to-Head

India and Vietnam have clashed on 17 occasions in the past according to official records. The Blue Tigers have won 10 meetings, while Vietnam have managed five wins.

The most memorable clash between these two teams was the 2002 LG Cup final which India triumphed 3-1 having come back from behind to win the trophy. India and Vietnam last met in 2010 in an international friendly in Pune with the Blue Tigers running out 3-1 winners yet again. Sunil Chhetri scored a hat-trick that night.

Vietnam Vs India Probable Line-ups

India’s predicted XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Naorem Roshan Singh, Anwar Ali, Sandesh Jhingan, Akash Mishra; Anirudh Thapa, Jeakson Singh; Lallianzuala Chhangte, Liston Colaco; Ashique Kuruniyan, Sunil Chhetri (C).

Vietnam’s Predicted XI: Dang Van Lam (GK); Bui Tien Dung (C), Bui Hoang Viet Anh, Chau Ngoc Quang, Nguyen Van Quyet, Nguyen Quang Hai, Ho Tan Tai, Pham Tuan Hai, Phan Tuan Tai, Nham Mang Dung, Tran Dinh Trong

Vietnam Vs India Players to Watch

Anirudh Thapa (India)

Be it pulling strings in midfield or stitching attacks together, Anirudh Thapa in a more advanced role can pick through balls at will. He tracks back and man-marks effectively too. Quick transitions from defence to attack is key against stronger oppositions and expect Thapa to link play in the middle for India.

In attack, he will want to progress the ball much quicker with India likely to play in transitions. Thapa will also have to screen the defence alongside Jeakson Singh and intercept the passes between the lines.

Nguyen Quang Hai (Vietnam)

The attacking midfielder plays club football for Ligue 2 side Pau FC and has been an integral part of Vietnam’s footballing renaissance. The playmaker should be a constant threat in picking up dangerous areas between the Indian midfield and defence.

Quang is the first Viet player to play in the French League having signed for second-tier side Pau FC. He has already made seven appearances for them. He has so far scored 10 goals and assisted five times in 44 appearances for the senior national team.

Did you Know?

  • India’s current FIFA ranking is 104 and Vietnam’s is 97th.
  • This is India’s first visit to Vietnam in nearly two decades.
  • Sunil Chhetri scored a hat-trick when India and Vietnam last faced each other.

Telecast

The match between India and Singapore will take place at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on September 27. The kick-off time is at 5:30 pm IST. The match will be live telecast in India on Eurosport. JIO TV will also live stream the match.

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