indian football

Singapore held the Indian football team to a 1-1 draw in their first match of the Hungh Thinh Friendly Tournament. Thus, the Blue Tigers will be looking to bounce back against Vietnam in their next match. However, the hosts have been in great form and India would be wary of the threat they possess. Ahead of this all-important encounter, Football Monk takes a look at tomorrow’s opponents: Vietnam.


The Vietnam Football team’s history can be broadly divided into two parts: before and after unification. Since the 1950s, a divided Vietnam had two teams representing the region, namely North and South Vietnam. It was not until 1991, that the team started representing a United Vietnam. They were held to a 2-2 draw in their first match as a unified country. This match was a part of the 1991 Southeast Asian games. The Vietnam Football Federation has since been the top football body in the country. 

indian football
Ashique Kuruniyan (centre) and others in training

Vietnam won the Asian Football Federation (AFF) cup twice in 2008 and 2018 respectively. The Golden Dragons have also reached the quarterfinals of the AFC Asian cup twice, in 2007 and 2019 respectively. The team is ranked 98th in the FIFA rankings, ahead of India.

Recent Form

Vietnam dominated Singapore in their first match with a comfortable 4-0 victory. The beginning of the year saw Vietnam competing in the third round of the World Cup qualifiers. They defeated China on either side of two heartbreaking losses against  Australia and Oman. Vietnam drew 1-1 with Japan in their final game of the qualifiers. Despite this gutsy draw, they ended up at the bottom of their group and missed out on qualification. Their last outing before the ongoing tournament ended in a comfortable 2-0 win over Afghanistan in June.

It will be a very different game against a much stronger opponent, so our approach will also change accordingly. We need to be more focused, especially on vertical football and quick transition.

Igor Stimac ahead of the crucial game

Head to Head

India has squared against South Vietnam multiple times before their unification. The first meeting between the two teams took place in the 1961 Meredka Cup. The South Vietnam team edged past India with a 2-1 victory. The Indians bounced back with a 3-2 victory in their next encounter in the 1962 Asian Games.

India has only ever faced the Vietnam team twice after the country’s unification. The first match ended in a 2-1 win for Vietnam in the 1997 LG cup. The two South Asian nations last met in 2010 with the Blue Tigers running out 3-1 winners. Sunil Chhetri scored a hattrick in that game, taking India to a comfortable win.

Abhishek Yadav and Sunil Chhetri in pre-match warmup in Pune in 2010 – the last time India faced Vietnam. Image via: The Hard Tackle

However, it is to be noted that India never faced the erstwhile North Vietnam team.

Players to watch out

Nguyen Tien Linh

Tien Linh plays as a forward for the Vietnamese national team. He has scored 12 goals in 29 International appearances. Tien Linh has the record for most goals in World Cup qualifying for Vietnam. He came through the ranks in V League 1 club side Becamex Binh Duong as a youth player. Linh has been a part of the club’s senior side since 2016. The eccentric striker has notched up 42 goals in 142 appearances for Becamex Binh Duong. 

Quế Ngọc Hải

Quế Ngọc Hải has been a permanent fixture in Vietnam’s national team since 2014. The centre-back has made 58 appearances for his country. This makes him the most experienced campaigner in the current squad. Ngọc Hải has had two stints at his current club Song Lam Nghe An FC with a three-year spell at Viettel FC in between. Hence, the Indian forwards must look to outfox the veteran defender in order to win against the South-east Asian rivals.

indian football
Quế Ngọc Hải celebrating a goal after scoring

Do Hung Dung

This box-to-box midfielder was named the captain of the Vietnamese side this year. He won his first cap for the country in 2018. Dung has made 23 appearances for the Senior team. What he lacks in international experience he makes up with abundant experience at the club level. He has primarily represented Hanoi FC in his club career since 2016. With the exception of the 2015-16 season which saw him join Saigon FC on a season-long loan. Midfield could be a key battle this Tuesday and thus India would do well to nullify the tireless skipper.

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