Vietnam’s journey to the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India has been troubled as a number of players in the national team have contracted the coronavirus and have been placed under quarantine.
The Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) reported the first five COVID-19 cases among the players and one doctor on Tuesday, before announcing more infections the next day.
The women’s team were supposed to travel from Spain, where they had spent about three weeks training and playing three friendly matches in preparation for the continental tourney, to India on Friday.
In light of the infections, the players who have not been infected and are qualified for entering India will depart for the South Asian country as planned, VFF general secretary Le Hoai Anh told reporters on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the sick players will continue their quarantine in Spain until recovering from the disease, before boarding another flight to India, Anh added.
While the health of the Vietnamese team members who tested positive for COVID-19 has been stable, with no abnormalities, according to the VFF, the medical trouble is forecast to heavily affect the competency of the squad at the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
As Vietnam will take on South Korea in their Group C opening match on January 21, Anh said sending reinforcements from Vietnam to India is not a timely solution, regarding the limited number of flights between the two countries due to the pandemic.
|The Vietnamese national women’s football team train in Spain for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Photo: Vietnam Football Federation|
The AFC Women’s Asian Cup is a quadrennial competition in women’s football for national teams which belong to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), with this year’s edition scheduled to take place in India from January 20 to February 6.
The Vietnamese women’s team, who are placed in Group C at this year’s championship, alongside Japan, South Korea, and Myanmar, left their home country for Spain on December 27, 2021.
Group A includes India, China, Chinese Taipei, and Iran while Group B includes Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, and Indonesia.
After the group stage, the top eight squads will advance to the quarterfinals.
The tourney will also serve as the final stage of the Asian qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, with the top five teams advancing directly while the next two will book places in the inter-confederation play-offs.
A World Cup spot is the challenging target Vietnam’s head coach Mai Duc Chung has set for his players as they will compete in a considerably tough group with strong opponents like Japan and South Korea.
That goal now seems more onerous.
Việt Nam face player shortage in run-up to Australia clash
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam’s World Cup qualifying campaign will resume against Australia in just six days but a shortage of available players is causing a headache for coach Park Hang–seo.
COVID-19, injuries, suspensions and visa issues are the four main problems at the moment.
A week after testing positive with COVID-19, Nguyễn Tiến Linh is now fully recovered. However, Linh hasn’t yet completed the quarantine period, so the 24–year–old striker can’t meet the visa deadline to enter Australia.
This is also the case for Hoàng Anh Gia Lai striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn.
Linh’s absence is a big loss for Việt Nam. Despite only scoring twice in the AFF Cup, he is still Việt Nam’s best attacking asset.
In 2021, Linh scored seven goals. He also scored in the final three matches of the World Cup second qualifying round in June, helping Việt Nam enter the third-round for the first time.
In this round of qualifiers, Linh found the net against China and Oman, two strong opponents.
After Linh and Toàn tested positive, South Korean oach Park called up Trần Phi Sơn and Ngân Văn Đại, but the duo have since faced visa issues as they were not on the original invitation list of the host Australia.
Việt Nam’s remaining striker Hà Đức Chinh and midfielder Nguyễn Tuấn Anh are also out due to injuries.
The bad luck continues as former captain Quế Ngọc Hải is suspended, having received two yellow cards in previous matches.
The absence of these seven important players, coupled with a strong Australian side looking to qualify for their sixth World Cup, has created a difficult puzzle for coach Park to try and solve.
Việt Nam will face Australia in Melbourne on January 27 before hosting China at home on February 1 in their remaining world cup final qualifiers campaign.
The national team have yet to win any points and are rooted to the bottom of Group B. —
Problems keep on mounting for Everton
One step forward, a million back. That just about sums up the general goings on at Everton Football Club these days.
It’s not a good time to be a Blue. One win in 13, defeat last week to the team at the bottom of the league, and languishing perilously close to the relegation zone.
Rafa Benitez got the bullet, and for the time being, club legend Duncan Ferguson has taken charge of the first team.
Next up for Everton is Aston Villa, and with former Liverpool captain Steve Gerrard in charge, more salt could be very well rubbed into Everton’s already gaping wound.
But the problem for the Blues isn’t really about the next game, or the one after that, and after that. Everton’s long-term problems are nothing short of gargantuan right now.
I accept there’s money being spent on a new stadium, and from the artist’s impression I’ve seen of the design, it looks amazing.
But Everton’s problems go beyond a few wins over the next few weeks.
I’ve no doubt Big Dunc will get the crowd buzzing, but the issues at Goodison Park are far more deep routed. Everton, I feel, have completely lost their identity. They have become a nothing, meaningless club.
There was talk this week that one name in the frame for the manager’s position is Roberto Martinez, the current manager of the Belgium national team and, of course, former manager of Everton.
Word on the street is the Belgium football authorities are unlikely to allow their national team manager to do both jobs, but the fact that he was even being considered speaks volumes for the lack of ambition currently displayed by Everton.
Martinez won nothing with Everton, and after an OK points tally in his first season (with a team almost entirely inherited from previous boss David Moyes) the former Wigan manager just went from bad to worse.
As his tenure was coming to an end, supporters had become disillusioned and made their anger known.
What followed after Martinez was basically a revolving door of managers who came and went without so much as threatening to bring back the glory days to Goodison.
Money was spent as well, a lot, and the backing from the board has been decent, especially compared to other mid-table Premier League teams.
But the cash was spent really badly, and now it’s Everton supporters that are paying the price.
Other names have been mentioned, Frank Lampard, Jose Mourinho, former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac, and even Wayne Rooney.
Rooney is doing wonders in his current job with Derby County, his first in management, but I feel he still lacks the experience to take over at Everton.
None of what I’ve written here will really bring any hope to the Everton faithful, but I don’t know what I can say to change that.
Everton are lost, a shadow of their former selves, and are light years away from getting anywhere close to challenging for trophies.
Whoever does get the job is going to be in for a real eyeopener when he walks into Goodison Park, so maybe their best bet is to give Duncan Ferguson a chance.
Unlikely they will get relegated this season, there are still three teams or more worse than Everton, but at least with Big Dunc he knows the job at hand.
New captain Dũng aims for Tết special against China
HÀ NỘI — Returning after a serious leg-break almost a year ago, Đỗ Hùng Dũng is back in the national squad and, with the captain’s armband, is ready to stamp his authority on Việt Nam’s remaining World Cup qualifiers against Australia, China, Oman and Japan.
The national team will face China at the Mỹ Đình stadium on the first day of Lunar New Year, a game that will mean a lot for Dũng.
“This will be a unique Tết celebration and we hope we can bring a very special performance to match,” Dũng said.
“As we know, the Mỹ Đình stadium will welcome about 20,000 fans to watch the national team face China on the first day of Lunar New Year.
“With that many fans, it will be a huge motivation for us. We hope for a great performance, but remember to comply with the pandemic prevention regulations when cheering for us.
“Of course, I will miss my family when we play during Tết, as this is one of very few family-gathering occasions, but it will still be special for me,” said the 28-year-old midfielder.
Returning to football after an awful tackle in a game against Hồ Chí Minh City FC sidelined him in March last year, Dũng has put his all into getting back into the form that saw him win the Vietnamese Golden Ball in 2019.
Despite being advised not to rush his recovery, Dũng never says “No” when his nation calls.
By the end of 2021, he was ready to play ago, though missed out on a chance to play at the AFF Suzuki Cup in Singapore due to a paperwork issue.
The newly-appointed national-side captain knows he has big shoes to fill in taking over from Quế Ngọc Hải, but isn’t lacking confidence.
“I’m fully confident in myself,” Dũng said.
“We all trust each other explicitly; players and coaching staff. Myself or anyone else with this responsibility will always motivate the team to do the best.
“Of course, before being called up Coach Park consulted the medical department on how to get us into the best shape and condition to compete at the highest level.
“That’s why I am confident and will put in the best performance possible for the nation.”
Việt Nam will face Australia away on January 27th and China at home on February 1st. The national team have yet to win any points and are rooted to the bottom of Group B. —
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