Nguyen Anh Duc scored the opener to put Vietnam in front before half-time, but Abu Amara’s second-half equaliser prevented coach Park Hang-seo’s side from pocketing a victory against Jordan in their last Group C match as part of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers on March 27 night.
|Favourite striker Nguyen Cong Phuong (in red) plays a good game against Jordan |
The encounter was merely a dead rubber, as both Vietnam and Jordan had already booked their places in the final round of next year’s AFC Asian Cup, scheduled to take place between January 5 and February 1, 2019.
Ahead of the match, Vietnam was standing at second in Group C with nine points, two behind the group leaders, Jordan. A victory would gift Park Hang-seo’s side the top spot, thus holding the advantage in the draw for the final stage.
Park included seven players of Vietnam’s U23s in the starting lineup at King Abdullah II Stadium in Amman, namely Pham Xuan Manh, Bui Tien Dung, Tran Dinh Trong, Vu Van Thanh, Luong Xuan Truong, Nguyen Quang Hai and Nguyen Cong Phuong.
The first opportunity of the match went to the home side, as striker Montheir stole the ball before firing a left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty box after five minutes, which was denied by keeper Dang Van Lam, who is playing for Hai Phong Club in Vietnam’s top-tier football league, V-League.
In the following minutes, the two teams shared ball possession, with the offensive situations equally divided for both sides.
Vietnam missed a precious opportunity to go ahead in the 22nd minute, as captain Dinh Thanh Trung’s freekick from 25 metres failed to break through the wall.
However, Vietnamese fans in attendance did not have to wait long to celebrate the opener, as only two minutes later, forward Nguyen Anh Duc, the top scorer of the 2017 V-League season, put Park Hang-seo’s side in front with an accurate finishing touch from Xuan Manh’s right-wing cross.
The opening goal inspired Vietnamese players to be more comfortable and confident. The advantage should have been doubled for the guests in the next seven minutes if a powerful and cunning curler by favourite forward Nguyen Cong Phuong had not been denied by the crossbar.
Trying in vain to equalise the score before half-time, Jordanian players put up the pressure in the second half, continuing to rely on high balls which proved not effective throughout the first 45 minutes.
The Jordan fans got ready to celebrate their equaliser one minute before the hour mark, but Ahmad Saleh’s rocket from 30 metres narrowly went wide of the left post.
Substitute keeper Tuan Manh brilliantly blocked a shot on goal from a narrow angle in the 64th minute, but he could not prevent the home side from levelling up the game eight minutes later, as Abu Amara drove a powerful long-range strike toward the left top corner to cancel out Anh Duc’s first-half opener.
Jordan could have completed a successful resurgence but for the Vietnamese keeper’s efforts to deny another narrow-angel attempt by Abu Amara in the 78th minute.
Tuan Manh went on to demonstrate his excellent reflex as he impressively denied a close-range header by Baha Faisal two minutes from time, thus sealing an aggregate 1-1 score for the Vietnam-Jordan encounter.
With the draw, Park Hang-seo’s side have officially wrapped up their 2019 Asian Cup qualification campaign in second place of Group C with ten points, two points behind the leaders, Jordan.
The draw for the final stage of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup is scheduled to be held on May 4, 2018 in Dubai.