Vietnam earns slot in final round of AFC U23 champs hinh anh 1Vietnamese football player Cong Phuong (Photo: Vietnamnet)
Hanoi, (VNA) - Vietnam has earned a berth at the final round of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship to be held in China next year.

Although Vietnam lost to the Republic of Korea 1-2 in the last qualification match, held at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City on July 23, they will have a slot in the final as one of six best second-placed teams of the qualifying round.

Coach Nguyen Huu Thang used four key players - Nguyen Van Toan, Nguyen Tuan Anh, Luong Xuan Truong and Nguyen Cong Phuong - in the starting formation for the first time. 

Vietnam played defence in the first minutes of the match, however, striker Lee Sang-heon opened for the visitors in the 19th minute.

After receiving the first loss, Vietnam attacked to level the score and from a pass in the left wing, striker Phuong defeated goalie Song Bum-keun to even the score for Vietnam. It is the 11th goal Phuong has scored at the Thong Nhat Stadium in the past three years.

The Republic of Korea played attack continuously to seek more goals. In the 42nd minute, receiving a pass from Cho Young-wook, Hwang In-beom raised the score to 2-1 for his team.

After the break, Vietnam had opportunities to score, but failed to do so.

"Vietnam was well organised, had good combination and played with high concentration in this game. We had some difficulties before the tournament, because we didn’t have our strongest players, but we played well today. All of our players were focused and showed a good performance. Vietnam is a good team, and I think they will improve a lot in the near future," said coach Chung Jung-yong of the Republic of Korea on the website

Meanwhile coach Thang said: “I am satisfied with our players’ spirit. We did not play with the idea to take only one point today but they played with good concentration."

At the qualification, 42 teams have been divided into nine groups, playing in nine countries including Vietnam. The other eight hosting countries are the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.

These teams will fight for 15 tickets to compete in the event’s final round. China qualified automatically for the final round as the hosts.-VNA