Vietnam hope to continue fairy-tale run
Asean champions Vietnam will be hoping to continue their dream run when they meet Japan in the Asian Cup quarter-finals today.
The Golden Dragons held Jordan to a 1-1 draw before pipping them 4-2 on penalties in the Round of 16 on Sunday to earn a historic spot in the Asian Cup's last eight.
It marks a remarkable run for a side who scrapped through to the knockout stage as one of the four best third-placed sides in the group stage, only by virtue of a better disciplinary record after they finished with an identical points and goals record to Lebanon.
"We got through to the Round of 16 by the narrowest of margins, so I really appreciate the players. They really did their best," Vietnam coach Park Hang Seo said.
"We don't get as much support as other richer countries, but we are one team and we fight together."
The match will be played at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai and will feature Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for the first time in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Japan captain Maya Yoshida believes that, among the sides left in the tournament, the team to beat are Iran, who are Asia's top-ranked side.
He said: "Iran are currently the best (football playing) country in Asia, but most important thing (for now) is that we go to the next round."
On their next opponents Vietnam, Yoshida claimed that they do not have a lot of information.
"We don't have any information about Vietnam to be honest and we have to be ready for them. I will think about Iran after (we have beaten Vietnam)," he said.
Japan, coached by Hajime Moriyasu, have stumbled through the tournament, winning by a single-goal margin in each of their four games.
They beat Turkmenistan, ranked 127th in the world, conceding twice in their 3-2 Group F encounter.
The 50th-ranked Samurai Blue allowed more than 75 per cent possession to Saudi Arabia in a dire last-16 outing that was settled by Takehiro Tomiyasu's header from a corner against the run of play, reported AFP.
- Today, 11.50pm: China v Iran
- Tomorrow, 11.50pm: UAE v Australia