Viet Nam have been placed in the Group F of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign by a draw organised in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia yesterday.
Other nations in the group are Thailand, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei and Iraq.
The draw divided 40 teams into eight groups of five teams each for the FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
The top eight teams and four best group runners-up will progress to the Asian World Cup qualifying round as well as the Asian Cup.
The home-and-away round robin tournament will start on June 11 this year and finish on March 29 next year.
The remaining 28 teams will compete for the other 12 places at the Asian Cup, which has been expanded from 16 to 24 teams for 2019.
Asian powerhouse Iraq are expected to top Group F. Viet Nam will have to compete for the second place against arch-rivals Thailand and Indonesia, familiar Southeast Asian foes.
In 19 meetings, Viet Nam have lost 12 to Thailand and won just three, drawing the remaining four.
Ranked 125 in the world, Viet Nam have played Indonesia 18 times, lost seven and won four.
Viet Nam met Iraq once in 2007 and lost 0-1. They beat Chinese Taipei 4-1 in their only game in the past.
“It is a competitive group,” said Viet Nam Football Federation (VFF) Deputy Chairman Tran Quoc Tuan who was Vietnamese representative at the draw.
“We will play Thailand and Indonesia, arch-rivals in our region and also the Asian defending champions Iraq. I think Viet Nam vs Thailand will be a match to watch. Thailand are ASEAN champions. Recently our U23 team lost 1-2 to them in a friendly in March. All these elements will motivate us to prepare carefully to beat not just Thailand but also other teams in the group,” Tuan said.
Playing Indonesia will also be tough, he said. Last year the two sides drew 2-2 in the AFF Cup opener.
Chinese Taipei are not considered at the same level as other teams, but Viet Nam cannot afford any complacency.
The only disadvantage Iraq will have is that they will have to play their matches in a neutral stadium in Qatar or the UAE.
Tuan said the VFF would set the team’s target as well as the plan to achieve it in discussion with coach Toshyia Miura.
In other football news, the draw for the Southeast Asian Games’ football tournament will be organised today in Singapore.
It is expected that all 11 teams will take part in the event. There is a rumour that the Philippines might not compete because they see their chances as slim.
The squads will be divided into two groups, and will compete in a round-robin format in the group round.
VFF Deputy Chairman Duong Vu Lam will represent Viet Nam at the draw.