Vietnam head coach Park Hang-seo said he expects Jordan to take an “aggressive” approach when the two teams meet in the Asian Cup last 16, but promised to find weaknesses in Vital Borkelmans’ in-form side.
Jordan defied their FIFA world ranking of 109 to finish top of Group B after claiming wins over Australia and Syria and picking up a draw against Palestine.
Park’s men were less emphatic, advancing to the knockout stage as the fourth-best third-placed team after suffering defeats to Iraq and Iran in Group D but clinching a vital 2-0 win over Yemen.
“We have already played strong teams in this competition, such as Iran and Iraq,” said Park.
“Jordan are also well organised and well prepared and that’s why they got first place in their group ahead of Australia.
“The match is not going to be easy. It will be tough but we will have to maximise our strengths to win. There are no perfect teams in the tournament, and we will find their weakness.
“After analysing two Jordan matches, we can conclude that they were playing with a more aggressive style against Syria and we expect they will do the same with us.
“But if we score first, it will be harder for them.”
Jordan have kept 3 consecutive clean sheets in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since 2004. @JordanFA ‘s captain Amer Shafi was standing between the sticks in both campaigns! pic.twitter.com/SP2sy2aDoH
— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 15, 2019
Park’s opposite number Borkelmans said his side would go into the game aware of Vietnam’s weaknesses as they aim to emulate Jordan’s best performances at the competition by reaching the quarter-finals.
Jordan were eliminated at the quarter-final stage in 2004 and 2011 but their displays in this year’s group stage have given the nation real hope of appearing in the final for the first time.
“I have seen, with my technical staff, many games of Vietnam,” said the former Belgium assistant head coach. “We know they are very strong but we also know their weaknesses.
“As coach, you work on this and I believe in my players. My players are trained at a high level. We’ve worked together for seven weeks now and they are amazing players.
“I have talked to my players many times, [saying] guys, you’ve made this [achievement] with what you did at this moment. You know the Vietnam team, you’ve played two times but that’s history.
“What happened in the first round is finished for me. For me, it’s now about going to the game against Vietnam. I never look back, only forward.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jordan – Amer Shafi
Jordan topped their group without conceding a goal and had goalkeeper Amer Shafi to thank for a number of crucial saves. The 36-year-old faced 19 shots on target across three games and is in fine form heading into the knockout stage.
Vietnam – Quang Hai Nguyen
Ha Noi midfielder Quang Hai Nguyen scored nine goals in 24 appearances for his club in 2018 and he was on target for his country in Vietnam’s crucial 2-0 win over Yemen. Jordan will need to be wary of his pace on the wing if they are to maintain their impressive defensive record in this year’s Asian Cup.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the first meeting between Jordan and Vietnam at the Asian Cup, however these sides met in 2019 Asian Cup qualifying – both games ending in a draw.
– Jordan have been eliminated in both of their Asian Cup knockout games, losing on penalties to Japan in 2004 and losing to Uzbekistan in 2011.
– Vietnam have qualified for the Asian Cup knockout stages in each of their two appearances in the competition (2007 and 2019), with Iraq defeating them in the 2007 quarter-finals.
– Jordan’s Mousa Suleiman has been involved in all of Jordan’s three goals at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, despite only playing in two of their three group matches (one goal, two assists) – his solitary goal came from his only shot on target.
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