Vietnam took a huge step forward in their bid for a first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification with a 2-0 win over Thailand in the Asian Cup playoff match here on Wednesday.
A win for Vietnam against Chinese Taipei in the round robin playoff on Sunday will seal the remaining automatic slot for the Southeast Asian side, with China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and co-hosts Australia having already qualified for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Thailand’s hopes hang by a thread, with victory over Chinese Taipei needed on Friday if they are to stand a chance, failing which the Southeast Asian side will advance to the Inter-Confederation playoffs.
With both teams having suffered heartbreaking defeats in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup quarter-finals on Sunday, the playoff was a chance to return home with fond memories and it was Vietnam who started the brighter of the two.
With Thailand still affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in their squad, Vietnam didn’t take long to exert control and their dominance saw captain Huynh Nhu opening the scoring in the 19th minute with a shot from the centre of the box high into the net.
Vietnam doubled their lead five minutes later, with Thai Thi Thao heading home Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung’s cross following a corner.
Vietnam nearly scored their third two minutes into the second half, but the left post denied Pham Hai Yen while Huynh Nhu had the ball in the net two minutes later only for VAR to rule it offside.
There was red card drama right at the very end, with Thailand’s Kanchanaporn Saenkhun sent off for bringing down Nguyen Thi Thanh Nah who was clear on goal. The resulting free-kick sailed wide but it didn’t matter as Vietnam secured the win and can now set their sights on playing Chinese Taipei on Sunday.