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Mai Duc Chung’s players celebrate their 1-0 win over Myanmar in Group A of the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers at the Jeju World Cup Stadium on February 6 (Photo: the-afc.com)
Vietnam finished second in the third qualification round’s Group B, while Australia finished top of their group after a 1-1 draw versus China on February 13, setting up the clash with Vietnam.
Securing an aggregate win and the nation's first-ever Olympic spot will be a tough task for coach Mai Duc Chung and his players.
Vietnam’s women’s football team is ranked 32nd in the world and sixth in Asia, and has never competed in any World Cup or Olympics.
Meanwhile, the Australian team stands seventh in the world and is top in the continental rankings. The team has taken part in seven out of eight World Cups and advanced to the quarter-finals three times in 2007, 2011 and 2015.
Australia has also entered three Olympics and made the last-eight round twice.
In head-to-head meetings between two teams in the past 10 years, Vietnam lost all seven matches, scoring two goals and conceding 37. In their latest meeting at the 2018 Asian Cup, Australia won 8-0.
Chung said he knows the scale of the challenge ahead of him.
“It is good for us to reach this playoff. The next rival will be very strong, even stronger than the Republic of Korea (who defeated Vietnam 3-0 in the third qualifier),” said Chung.
Midfielder Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung also said Australia is the toughest rival for Vietnam in her 10-year career.
“We may not be worse than some teams but Australia is different. They are better in terms of physique and technique,”said Dung who was in the senior Vietnamese team that lost 4-2 to U20 Australia in the AFF Cup semi-finals in 2018.
“I think the best way is to limit our mistakes and cover our weak points so we can make something of the matches. Of course, we will not give up early but compete for national pride.”
The 70-year-old coach Chung said he will seek several friendly matches to prepare his team.
The COVID-19 outbreak would make it difficult to get an international team to come to Vietnam, so he said he wants his players to play local men’s teams instead.
"If there is no international friendly, I would like to sharpen my players’ skills with several men’s team who are tall and big and good at high balls similar to the Australians,” said Chung.
The players will have a few days rest before returning to training next week in Hanoi.
They will visit Australia on March 6 for the first leg and host the Australian team five days later at Quang Ninh province’s Cam Pha Stadium./.