11:10 | 15/01/2018 Sports
Vietnam's national U-23 football team is keeping the door to the AFC U-23 Championship's quarterfinals wide open after surprisingly defeating Australia 1-0 on Sunday.
|Goal scorer Nguyen Quang Hai (19) - Photo: bongda24h|
Thanks to a defensive strategy, a 72nd minute goal from Quang Hai and a touch of luck, Vietnam's youngsters achieved a convincing victory and climbed to second place in group D. Meanwhile Australia, a title contender, dropped to third place and faces elimination.
If the Vietnamese team could remain in the group's top two, it would be the first Southeast Asian team in the history of the championship to enter the quarterfinals. Thailand, the only other team from the region to participate in the group stage this year, has already been eliminated after losing both matches it has played.
In the last round next Wednesday, Vietnam would play against the group's last-place Syria, while Australia would face the first-place South Korea.
As Vietnam was considered the underdog before the match, the team's victory came as a surprise to many and has been widely celebrated by the Vietnamese fans.
"I want to dedicate this victory to the Vietnamese people. I promised to create something special and I've done it, but this is only the beginning," Vietnam's head coach Park Hang-Seo said.
Last November, Park already made history with Vietnamese football after securing for the national team a ticket to the finals of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since 2007.
AFC U-23 Championship is a biennial international age-restricted football championship organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the men's under-23 national teams of Asia. This year's competition, hosted by China, is the third edition of the championship and is restricted to players born on or after January 1, 1995.
A total of 16 teams are participating in this year's final tournament, divided into four groups of four. The top two teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals.
Vietnam had its debut in the tournament in 2016 and reached the group stage. However the team was eliminated after losing all of its group stage matches against UAE, Jordan and Australia.