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Vietnam Beats Bahrain 1-0 to Clinch First-Ever Spot in U-20 World Cup

Vietnamese athletes are killing it on the global stage this year, as the country’s Under-19 football team has qualified for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.

According to Tuoi Tre, on Sunday night the national team made history by beating Bahrain 1-0 during the AFC U-19 Championship quarterfinal. Vietnam is the last Southeast Asian country remaining in the competition. By defeating the host team at Bahrain National Stadium in front of more than 10,000 spectators, Vietnam became the only team from ASEAN to qualify for the international sporting event.

The two teams went into the break in a tie, reports AFC. However, Vietnamese striker Tran Thanh chipped a shot over Bahrain’s goalkeeper to score in the 72nd minute, taking Vietnam into the semifinals and, at the same time, the 2017 U-20 World Cup. This is the first time the country has made it into a World Cup event, although the win was not a Southeast Asian first, as Myanmar’s U-20 team achieved the feat in 2014.

Hoang Anh Tuan, the national team’s coach, was on cloud nine during an interview with Zing after the historic win. “What can I say? I’m elated and so proud of my team,” the Khanh Hoa native told the news source. “[The team] has written a fairy tale for Vietnam’s football and impressed the whole region.”

While Tuan was undoubtedly proud of the achievement, he also noted the victory was the result of years of preparation and not just a few recent matches.

“We have analyzed and come up with both the strengths and weaknesses of the Bahraini team,” he shared with Zing. “During the quarterfinal, those assessments became apparent. Thus, Vietnam only needed to stick to the strategy to score a win.”

Despite not possessing any standout individuals like previous generations, Hoang Anh Tuan’s U-19 batch is widely recognized as one of the best crops of players in recent history, and what they have achieved during the AFC confirms this.

Vietnam’s next match will be on October 27 against Japan, whose team beat Tajikistan during yesterday’s quarterfinal match.

According to FIFA regulations, countries compete in their six continental competitions first for 24 slots in the World Cup. Asian nations have been participating in the 2016 AFC U-19 Championship since October 13 for four places in the global event, while South Korea automatically qualifies as host.

[Photo via AFC]

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