Vietnam’s coach Hoang Anh Tuan rued as they exited U20 Asian Cup despite having the same points as Australia and Iran who got to advance after the group stage.
In the last fixture of group B on Tuesday evening, Vietnam lost 1-3 to Iran, while Australia crushed Qatar 9-1.
Vietnam, Iran and Australia all have six points after three games, but Vietnam ended up in third position due to having a lower goal difference (-1), while Iran (+1) and Australia (0) took the top two spots.
“We were eliminated in the harshest way because of goal difference,” Tuan said.
At Istiqtol Stadium, Uzbekistan, Vietnam conceded in the 36th minute after Mohammad Hazbavi’s header. Several changes in the second half helped Vietnam equalize in the 56th minute by a goal of captain Khuat Van Khang. However, in the 75th minute, great footwork by Amirreza Eslamtalab broke through Vietnam’s defense and Saeid Saharkhizan was there to tap it in for Iran.
In the fourth additional minute, Hosseinnezhad made it 3-1 for Iran after a counter-attack. At that time, Vietnam only needed a goal because losing 2-3 would keep them at the tournament. However, with two minutes left, Vietnam could not score more.
“We had a great chance to advance, but could not make it. This defeat will be an unforgettable lesson. We will have to work much harder in the future,” captain Khang said.
Iran captain Hazbavi also felt sorry for Vietnam’s elimination.
“It was a difficult game for Iran because Vietnam were strong. I don’t think they deserve elimination, but that’s football, unfortunately,” Hazbavi said.
Despite exiting the tournament early, Vietnam left an impression when they beat two strong teams Australia and Qatar. New talents were also discovered at the tournament.
“They are still very young and have plenty of time to improve. I believe this generation of players will be a great contribution to the national team,” coach Tuan said.
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