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Vietnam women's team chances of qualifying for Olympics increase following DPR Korea’s withdrawal

by NDO25 December 2019 Last updated at 15:00 PM

Vietnam women's national team return to training on December 24 for the goal of securing a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Photo: VFF)
Vietnam women's national team return to training on December 24 for the goal of securing a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Photo: VFF)

VTV.vn - The reigning ASEAN champions’ hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has gained an unexpected boost after the sudden withdrawal from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the third qualifying round.

The Vietnam women's national team returned to Hanoi for a training camp on Tuesday afternoon (Dec 24) in preparation for their next important target in early 2020, following their gold medal campaign at the recently-wrapped up Southeast Asian (SEA) Games

Vietnam are in round three of the Olympics qualifiers, drawn in Group A together with the DPRK, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Myanmar. Meanwhile, Group B consists of Australia, China, Thailand and Chinese Taipei. The teams will play in a round robin format from February 3-9, 2020 to decide the top two teams from each group for the play-off tournament. The two best teams of the play-off tournament, after playing a legged affair with both a home and away match from March 6 to 11 next year, will then join hosts Japan as the three representatives of Asia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

However, the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) on Tuesday afternoon announced that the DPRK unexpectedly withdrew, leaving Group A with only three teams – the ROK, Myanmar and Vietnam. As one of the strongest teams in the continent, the withdrawal of the DPRK is considered to be a great opportunity for coach Mai Duc Chung’s side to earn one place in the top two finish in their group in the third qualifying round, thus progressing to the play-off tournament.

Before their first training session to prepare for the 2020 Olympic qualifiers, coach Chung spent time exchanging with reporters on his team’s preparation. According to Chung, the withdrawal from the DPRK proposes a fantastic chance for Vietnam to progress. “If we finish second in Group A in the third round, we are eligible to progress to the play-off round, which will be a home-away format. It is very favourable for us,” the 68-year-old strategist said.

Regarding his squad, Chung revealed that his team are focusing on rejuvenating the squad as he has brought many faces from the U19 team to the senior level: “At this camp, there are four veterans including Nguyen Thi Xuyen, Vu Thi Nhung, Vu Thi Thuy and Diem My retired from the senior team. I support the team’s revitalisation and have called several young players from the U19 team to gather with their senior colleagues in the hope that the combination of experiences and youth will help us do our job well, as well as preparing for the team’s squad in the future.”

Members of the Vietnam women's team in action during their first training camp after the 2019 SEA Games campaign, Hanoi, December 24, 2019. (Photo: VFF)

Currently, some players still have not recovered after the 30th SEA Games, including midfielder Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy and vice-captain defender Chuong Thi Kieu, but Chung is still optimistic about his players’ recovery. “Chuong Thi Kieu and Bich Thuy have not been recovered from their injuries caused at the SEA Games final match against Thailand yet, but I think during this training camp, they will be followed by the team’s doctors to boost their recovery,” the 1951-born said.

Regarding the team’s last training session for 2019, coach Chung said: “This is the last gathering of the year and also the first preparation phase for 2020. Right after the Lunar New Year holiday, we will compete in the third qualifying round for the Tokyo Olympics in the ROK. Although the timeframe is very short, we have set our goal. I have reminded my players to forget their gold medals in the last SEA games and to focus on their new higher task. It is an important and not a simple target for the team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as all of our opponents are at a world’s level.”

Coach Mai Duc Chung during the first training camp of the Vietnam women's team after the 2019 SEA Games campaign, Hanoi, December 24, 2019. (Photo: VFF)

The women's national team will train at the Vietnam National Youth Training Centre in Hanoi until December 31. After the New Year holiday, on January 2, 2020, the whole team will go to Cam Pha city in Quang Ninh province to have a seven-day training camp there. Chung and his players will be back to Hanoi on January 10 and spend their time to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday, before leaving for the ROK to compete in the third qualifying round for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics from February 3-9, 2020.

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