Hosts Vietnam will take on Jordan at 5:15 pm on Wednesday in the opening match of group A of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, with a target to rank fifth at the continental tournament and thus win a ticket to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
The match, to be organized at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, will be decisive for the Vietnamese women’s World Cup dream since Jordan are their direct rivals.
Drawn in group A with world defending champions Japan and Asian reigning champions Australia, Vietnam set a target to rank third, above Jordan, in the group to play a play-off against the third team in group B to grab the fifth ticket to Canada next year.
The women’s Asian Cup finals, held from May 14 to 25, will have the participation of eight teams, with the four others including South Korea, China, Thailand, and Myanmar in group B.
In regulation, the four leaders of the two groups will win direct tickets to partake in the 2015 World Cup while the last will be the play-off fight between two third-ranked teams.
Hosts Vietnam are at an advantage in the coming clash with Jordan as their rivals have never defeated them before.
In their seven recent encounters, Vietnam won six games and tied once with Jordan.
Vietnam thrashed Jordan 3-0 at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. At the London 2012 Olympics qualifiers, Vietnam beat hosts Jordan 1-0 in 2011.
Most recently, Vietnam defeated Jordan 4-0 at a Southeast Asian Cup held in Myanmar in September last year.
In four friendly matches in 2013, the Vietnamese women beat Jordan 5-1 and 2-0 in away games and secured a 1-1 draw together with a 1-0 victory in Hanoi.
However, the results did not discourage Japanese coach Masahiko Okiyama of Jordan at today’s meeting in Ho Chi Minh City.
He led Jordan to a training trip in Japan to prepare for this continental tournament and felt satisfied with his team’s progress, although Jordan lost 0-1 and 0-2 to the women’s team of German giants Bayern Munich in two friendly games in April.
Chinese coach Chow Yun Fat of Vietnam admitted, “There are four very strong teams in this competition, so our practical goal is to aim for fifth place and take the last ticket to the 2015 World Cup.”
He added, “The training camps in South Korea and China were suitable for our players; they learned a lot and improved their performances. Their fitness levels are good and they will adapt well to conditions here.”
Vietnam will play Japan on May 16 and Australia on May 18.
While Vietnam seems to be modest in their target, Jordan’s coach Masahiko is more ambitious, targeting to be in the top three at the tournament.
“We’re seriously thinking about winning one of the top three spots. Despite being in a very difficult group with the World Cup champions, the defending Asian champions and the hosts, we will challenge them, we will fight them, and we will surprise everybody with our performance,” he was quoted as saying on the AFC website.
“We have played friendly matches against Vietnam before and unfortunately we lost. But we’re improving more and more and we’re looking forward to the meeting, and we’ll play with a sense of honor and fun.”