Viet Nam will face a big obstacle in Japan on their Asian Football Confederation Futsal Championship journey in the quarter-finals tonight in Uzbekistan.
The 1-3 loss to Thailand in the last group round match placed Viet Nam in second position in Group C, and they must also play the defending champions, who topped Group D after all three wins in the first stage.
Japan proved the strongest team in an impressive fashion having scored 15 goals and conceding just two in a group that gathered Qatar, Malaysia and Australia.
Viet Nam, in their fourth appearance in the championship, pocketed 14 goals but let through eight.
It is the second consecutive time they have secured a berth in the last eight.
Their success brought them a big bonus of VND200 million (US$8,900) from the Viet Nam Football Federation, which is also meant to encourage the team before they climb a high mountain.
Coach Bruno Formoso said he has a plan in place when facing stronger rivals.
“When we play nations that are stronger than us we have to break the match down into a series of smaller moments, like a collection of micro games,” the Spaniard said.
“We have a specific strategy for each block of the contest, so we will focus differently on the first and last five minutes of each half, but the key is that we have to enter the second half with options to obtain a victory,” he explained.
On the other side, Miguel Rodrigo has urged Japan to win the early “mental battle” and make a strong start against Viet Nam.
“There are two keys to winning this match, firstly we must win the battle of the mind, and secondly we must improve our accuracy in front of the goal,” Rodrigo was quoted as saying to the-afc.com.
“I want us to be dominant in the early minutes, try to score and really get on top mentally and to show our Japanese style of futsal.”
Rodrigo said Japan were good defensively and expected that to continue.
The two nations met in several friendly matches in Japan in the middle of last year, with Rodrigo’s side winning two hard-fought encounters.
“We played Viet Nam twice, but both times we could not finish off the match until the very end. Maybe, now they are suffering physically after some difficult matches, but we know it will not be easy for us,” Rodrigo said.
“I know their coach, Bruno, very well and I know he will be tactically prepared for this match and, sure, we are favourites on paper, but on the pitch anything can happen,” he added.
In case of a defeat to Japan, Viet Nam still have a chance to advance to the World Cup final if they secure the tournament’s fifth position.
It means they will have to win two matches in the play-off round.
Speaking with the press head of the Viet Nam team Tran Anh Tu said, “There are three matches left. We could be exhausted because of tough games but we will realise the World Cup dream. We will keep fighting.”
The quarter-finals will be aired live on Fox Sport channel from 9pm Ha Noi time.