India was thrashed 0-3 at the hands of a higher-ranking Vietnam on Tuesday in the second and final game of the Hung Thinh Friendly Football Tournament in Ho Chi Minh City. It was a reality check for the 104th-ranked Indians after three convincing wins in June in the Asian Cup qualifiers and a 1-1 draw against Singapore in this tournament on Saturday, as they were literally outplayed by 97th-ranked Vietnam in the second half.
Phan Van Duc (10th), Nguyen Van Toan (49th) and Nguyen Van Quyet (70th) scored for Vietnam to no response from the Indians whose defenders had a mediocre performance, especially in the second half.
However, the Indians were on par with their opponents in the first half only to be blown away in the second session.
Vietnam won the tournament with two wins from as many matches. They had also beaten Singapore 4-0 in their opening game.
India and Vietnam had played many memorable matches in the past, including the 2002 LG Cup final, which India won 3-1 after coming back from behind to win the trophy.
India and Vietnam last met in an international friendly in Pune in 2010, with the Blue Tigers winning 3-1 and Chhetri scoring a hat-trick.
But since then, Vietnam football has been on the rise and has been able to rival the continent’s top teams. Earlier this year, they reached the final round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and also made it to the last eight stages of the 2019 Asian Cup. The home side were not long in coming and Phan Van Duc found the goal in the 10th minute. However, the goal could have been prevented if goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and central defender Sandesh Jhingan had communicated well.
Both Gurpreet and Jhingan, who were in the starting XI after the last game due to a late arrival due to visa problems, went for the ball from a corner, but the Indian keeper was able to get his hands on it.
Jhingan’s header somehow fell into the middle of the Indian penalty area and Van Duc’s sharp left foot bulged into the net, even as Gurpreet struck a faint slap.
A minute before the attack, Gurpreet had to dive all the way to the right to save another shot from a Vietnam attacker.
Vietnam went on the attack, but India also gradually came into their own and they had two clear scoring opportunities in the first half, thanks to fine assists from Akash Mishra, who was fantastic on the left channel.
In the 26th minute, Mishra was in the middle of an Indian counter-attack and sent a great pass to Ashique Kuruniyan, on the edge of the Vietnam box on the left. Kuruniyan’s volley defeated the keeper, but went inches wide from Vietnam’s far post.
Even closer than Kuruniyan’s bet was skipper Sunil Chhetri’s just before the halftime signal.
Mishra tapped one from the wide left wing for Chhetri, who led his header towards the far post but missed by a whisker. The experienced striker reacted incredulously with hands on his head.
Vietnam pushed hard just as they came out after the restart and they had a few shots on the Indian goal.
Vietnam’s second goal came four minutes after restart when Nguyen Van Toan won an aerial duel with Anwar Ali and then defeated Gurpreet with a shot.
By the 65th minute, head coach Igor Stimac replaced Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Chinglensana with Brandon Fernandes, Liston Colaco and Roshan Singh, but there was no change in India’s fortunes as Vietnam scored their third five minutes later.
Van Quyet received the ball from a header into the Indian penalty area and curled the ball past Gurpreet to punish the visitors for yet another defensive sloppiness.
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