Vietnam took a big step towards qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after trouncing a visiting Cambodia 5-0 in a Group C clash at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on Tuesday night, as Jordan were held to a 3-3 draw by Afghanistan in the neutral venue of Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Vietnam joined Jordan at the top of the group with eight points each, and a win against Afghanistan at home next month will seal qualification for the Golden Star, who hosted the Cup in 2007.
The beleaguered Cambodian side, now a distant third, await Jordan in their next fixture at the Olympic Stadium on November 14, trying to erase bitter memories of a 7-0 first-leg away battering at the start of the third-round qualifiers.
But for a few chances on the break, especially during a hard-fought first half that saw only one goal, Cambodia were completely outclassed in the second half by the home side, adding to the immense pressure building on national head coach Leonardo Vittorino to hold the team together.
From a Vietnamese perspective, the victory marked a sweet handover for newly named coach Park Hang-seo of South Korea, who assumed charge yesterday from caretaker coach Mai Duc Chung, who signed off his short stint in style.
Vietnam’s dominant display will have impressed the South Korean as he watched the side he will lead against Afghanistan next month take absolute control of the match soon after the start despite heavy rain making things difficult.
Dinh Thanh Trung scored the first via a deflection in the 13th minute. But Cambodia successfully stalled Vietnam’s push for more in the first half, while creating a couple of decent chances of their own.But the storyline dramatically changed in the second half as Nguyen Van Quyet, Nguyen Anh Duc, Nguyen Cong Phuong and Mac Hong Quan came up with a goal each, with the tally completed in injury time.
Chantha Bin Thierry’s free-kick slamming the bar just before the final whistle was the only note of comfort for a Cambodia side that had been hopelessly tied up.
Jordan, who led Vietnam by two points going into this game, sharing spoils with bottom of the group Afghanistan was a welcome pre-game boost for the Vietnamese.