The last time the two countries met, the Blue Tigers won by a margin of 3-1.

India will hope to clinch the Hưng Thịnh friendly tournament when they lock horns against hosts Vietnam on Tuesday. The Blue Tigers’ first match in the competition was disappointing as they were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Singapore.

But Igor Stimac’s side still has a chance to win the trophy if they can beat Vietnam. It won’t be easy at all. The Golden Star Warriors are on a surge of momentum. It should be a pretty tight, closely-fought clash with both teams determined to end this international break with a win.

A few particular battles on the pitch can decide the outcome of the game. Both teams have a nice blend of exciting young players and experienced senior members that add unpredictability to their styles. So, let’s look at the three key battles for the Vietnam vs India clash.

3. Tuan Hai Pham vs Anwar Ali

Tuan Hai Pham (jersey number 30) (Courtesy: newsfounded)

Vietnam boasts of a menacing attacking line that can cause major problems for India. Clinical striker Tuan Hai Pham adds a unique threat to the frontline with his menacing movement and finishing. The 24-year-old has scored two goals in seven international appearances so far and plays for Vietnamese giants Hanoi FC.

He can cause trouble with his speedy moves and predatorial work in the final third and run riot if not neutralized. Fortunately for India, they have a composed and smart defender in the form of Anwar Ali at the back. The FC Goa centre-back has had a really impressive 2022 for the Blue Tigers and is now a mainstay in Igor Stimac’s side.

He will have to be at his sharpest while dealing with Hai Pham, track his movements perfectly and make clutch challenges whenever necessary. Ali has to ensure Pham doesn’t get too many shots in on goal and has to protect Gurpreet Singh Sandhu if India are to defy the odds on Tuesday.

2. Nguyen Van Quyet vs Sahal Abdul Samad

Vietnam’s 3-5-2 system gives them the flexibility to create chances from all around. One player who controls the midfield battle and is handed the major playmaking duties is their No. 10 Nguyen Van Quyet. The Hanoi FC midfielder is having a pretty solid domestic season, having scored seven goals and registering two assists in 16 appearances.

The midfielder is an aggressive, bombastic figure in the middle – who loves getting into scoring areas and controlling games for his side. He’ll need to be neutralized for India to stop the game from getting out of their hand. Sahal Abdul Samad might have to pull off double duty and focus on his defensive work in this fixture.

The Kerala Blasters midfielder naturally loves playing in a more advanced role where he can create chances and also get on the scoresheet. He’ll have to lock down Van Quyet and stop him from freely moving around the place. He’ll also try to create on the breaks and make his presence felt in the final third to give that added attacking power. This duel between the two hard-working, creative figures can be a fascinating one. It’s also one India must win to keep themselves in the game.

1. Sunil Chhetri vs Tien Dung Bui

Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri (Courtesy: ISL)

Even at the age of 38, Sunil Chhetri still looks like the most determined player for India. He’s still leading from the front and the Blue Tigers are indeed still very dependent on him. Even in the Singapore draw, it was his clever assist that set up Ashique Kuruniyan’s equalizer. But the Indian captain will have his hands full against Vietnam. The opposition are well aware of his ability and will give him the utmost respect.

Vietnam will also aim to nullify him, knowing how doing so can cripple India’s attack. Chhetri will probably have his hands full by dealing with Vietnam captain Tien Dung Bui. The 24-year-old centre-back is fast, motivated and extremely alert at the back. He knows how to sniff out threats and bully opposition strikers. Bui will be expected to keep a tight mark on Chhetri. Another priority will be to stop Chhetri from running India’s attacking moves.

The 38-year-old, however, has experience on his side. He’ll have to use that and move into the empty pockets of space smartly and send his teammates through on goal. The India captain also has to look to move into the scoring areas and test the goalkeeper, as he aims for his 85th international goal. This duel should result in a fascinating battle of wits and one Chhetri must win to increase India’s chances of success.

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