Vietnam concluded their qualification campaign atop Group D scoring 12 points after four stellar victories (11-0 against Syria, 6-1 against Iran, 8-0 against Singapore and 2-0 against Myanmar), thus booking the group’s solitary ticket to Jordan next year.
According to Mai Duc Chung, head coach of the national squad, Vietnamese football is currently in a period of transition, with many young players still in need of competition experience after replacing retired senior players. It is an encouraging result to be through to the AFC finals; however, if Vietnam wants to advance further into the tournament, more adequate attention should be paid to the development of women’s football, he added.
At present, members of the national squad are the best players selected by the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) and the coaching staff from U19 teams across the country and clubs of the national women’s football championship. There is little chance for players to improve their expertise due to a lack of tournaments. The national competition now features only eight participants, three fewer than previously. The financial limitation also prevents the VFF from privately investing in individual clubs, as stated by Phan Anh Tu, head of the VFF’s women’s football department. General Director of the Vietnam Professional Football Company (VPF) Cao Van Chong has confirmed that it is thanks to sponsors that the national women’s football tournament can be organised in the two-way format, at home and away, which means each player will have more time to play football.
The number of official matches played by a female player in one year can only be counted on the fingers of one hand. Each member of the team advancing to the final of the national championship can play a maximum of 17 matches throughout the season. Players chosen for the national team are more fortunate as they have more opportunities for overseas training and competition. This is quite different from their male colleagues as there are a large number of tournaments as well as clubs for men’s football. According to VFF Vice President Tran Quoc Tuan, the federation is exerting efforts to ensure the Vietnamese women’s team a training course in Japan in late July, in a move towards the upcoming 29th Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia. This is also part of the team’s preparation plan for the 2018 AFC Championships, scheduled from April 7 to 22 in Jordan, the official said. In terms of achievements, while the Vietnamese men’s team is still holding on to the long-waited SEA Games title dream, the women’s team have successfully realised the mission a number of times, notably attaining a gold medal at the 2003 SEA Games held in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese women’s team has already booked a place in the 2018 AFC Championship finals and is working hard for a slot at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be granted to the top five teams at the continental championship in Jordan next year. Despite being a source of pride to the country, the women’s team experiences much poorer conditions compared to their male colleagues, in terms of accommodation, training facilities, technical direction as well as foreign fitness and health experts. It is an urgent need for the VFF to seek measures to address these shortcomings and secure proper investment for women’s football, contributing to encouraging the “golden girls” of Vietnamese football to do their utmost for national pride.