AFC Women's Asian Cup: Southeast Asian sides meet in crucial tie

Navi Mumbai, Jan 26 (IANS): Vietnam and Myanmar will put everything on the line in their final AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 Group C tie, here on Thursday. The top two teams from each group, along with two best third-placed sides will qualify for the quarter-finals, which promise an exciting match-up when the two Southeast Asian rivals clash at the D.Y. Patil Stadium. Vietnam have a marginal edge, having conceded one goal less but will be wary of a Myanmar side they are very familiar with.

Their most recent meeting was in the Final Round of the Women's Olympic Qualifiers in 2020, but Vietnam head coach Mai Duc Chung believes Myanmar hold the upper hand this time around as his squad has been heavily affected by COVID-19.

"We will still keep fighting and prepare everything for the last match, it's very important," said Mai. "I would, however, say that Myanmar are more lucky compared to us because they were not affected by COVID-19, but we will still do our best to get the three points."

Both teams opted for a defensive approach against Japan and Korea Republic but Mai hinted at a complete change in playstyle against Myanmar.

"Japan is one of the top ranked teams in the world, and are very strong. So our players played mostly defence and only had a few opportunities to score. When playing against two strong opponents, Vietnam and Myanmar both had to play defensively, but when we play our final match, both teams might play an attacking game. We're about the same level in Southeast Asia, so we understand our opponents well," said Mai.

Myanmar, meanwhile, showed significant improvement from their opening day 5-0 loss to Japan to hold Korea Republic to a goalless first half on Matchday Two, but a drop in concentration saw them concede twice after the break.

Assistant head coach Bo Bo Aung said his side won't be lacking confidence when facing their regional rivals in Navi Mumbai.

"We worked on our mistakes from the match with Japan, and the head coach also gave some instructions," said Bo. "Our performance wasn't bad, but we conceded goals when our concentration was low. There's no pressure. We've already faced the strongest teams, so we've got enough confidence for the upcoming match."

Japan v Korea Republic

In another Group C match a thriller is on the cards when Japan and Korea Republic face off in their final AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Thursday. Both teams enter Matchday three with six points to their names after wins against Vietnam and Myanmar, with Japan ahead on goal difference and only needing to avoid defeat to top the group.

Korea Republic, however, will be all out to take down the two-time defending champions with head coach Colin Bell having worked on the mistakes identified in the win against Myanmar on Monday.

"I think we made a few unforced errors when going forward," said Bell. "When trying to play as expansive as possible that transition will have to be excellent, the organisation when we're attacking has to be very good. We've got a couple of situations where our organisations were a little bit off, but were able to recover quickly enough, and Myanmar weren't able to finish anything.

"For the game against Japan, they've got much more quality and if we give them these kinds of invitations, they will take them. So our transition into defence has to be much faster. When we're attacking, we need to make sure we do not lose our defensive structure."



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