Bui Hoang Viet Anh: “Vietnam needs to avoid petty mistakes against Indonesia”

According to central defender Bui Hoang Viet Anh, Vietnam’s defense must learn from the unnecessary mistakes made at the Asian Cup 2023 when facing Indonesia in the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

Vietnam will visit Indonesia for the first leg of the Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup on March 21 at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, and the return leg on March 26 at the My Dinh Stadium.

Viet Anh said the team aims to earn at least four points in the upcoming two matches to consolidate their second position in Group F. “We are very focused on achieving our goal,” he said before the afternoon training session on March 17 at the Vietnam Youth Football Training Center. “Especially, the defense must learn from experience and avoid petty mistakes against Indonesia.”

Currently, Indonesia is at the bottom of the group with just one point. According to Viet Anh, the opponent will have to attack to win, which could expose gaps in their defense. “Vietnam must take advantage of every opportunity, no matter how small, to score,” the Hanoi Police Club defender said.

Viet Anh and his teammates cannot forget the 0-1 loss to Indonesia in the group stage of the Asian Cup 2023 in January. The only goal came from a penalty after central defender Nguyen Thanh Binh pulled the shirt of striker Rafael Struick in the penalty area. The Cong Club’s central defender was then criticized for the blatant and unnecessary foul, and Vietnam lost the second consecutive match and was eliminated from the group stage.

At the tournament in Qatar in January, many Vietnamese players lacked international experience and easily made mistakes leading to disadvantages. Specifically, in the loss to Indonesia, Le Pham Thanh Long was penalized twice for illegal obstruction of the opponent’s counter-attacks, resulting in two yellow cards and being sent off towards the end of the match. In the final group match against Iraq, Vietnam was playing well and leading 1-0 but unexpectedly lost a player when Khuat Van Khang received a direct red card for an overly aggressive dispute in the first half. Eventually, Coach Philippe Troussier’s team lost 2-3.

According to Viet Anh, Indonesia’s strongest point is having many European-based naturalized players, but this could also be a weakness due to the lack of cohesion from playing together less often. The Vietnamese national team defender is not intimidated by the pressure from nearly 80,000 spectators at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. “Having many spectators in the stadium is motivation for us to play better, not pressure,” he shared.

Viet Anh emphasized that Vietnamese players must be confident in the team’s collective strength and national pride when wearing the national team jersey. The team needs to focus on executing the planned playstyle instead of getting dragged into disputes or tricks by the opponent.

In the match where Hanoi Police lost to The Cong 0-3 in the 13th round of the V-League 2023-2024, Viet Anh suffered a lip injury that required 24 stitches. Now, he has stabilized and does not need to bandage during training.

Viet Anh and his teammates have one more training session before heading to Indonesia on March 19 to prepare for the match.

Historically, Vietnam has won eight, drawn 11, and lost nine matches against Indonesia. In the last five encounters, Vietnam lost 0-1 in the Asian Cup 2023 group stage, won 2-0 in the second leg of the AFF Cup 2022 semi-finals, drew 0-0 in the first leg of the AFF Cup 2022 semi-finals, drew 0-0 in the AFF Cup 2020 group stage, and won 4-0 in the second round of the World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

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