SAMINDRA KUNTI / AIPS: Vietnam’s backroom staff, before their opening Group D game in the Asian Cup, had analysed opponents Iraq for weeks and had transmitted more than a mere message of confidence to their players: they had predicted a 3-1 victory. Instead Vietnam went down 3-2 to Iraq and a last-minute set piece from Ali Adnan.
In the day’s other match Saudi Arabia opened their Group E campaign in style with a 4-0 victory over North Korea.
As for Vietnam they ran, fought and battled for 90 minutes, but fell short. Still, the result was a testimony to their recent rise in the Asian game. Last year Vietnam enjoyed a blockbuster year by reaching the final of the U-23 Asian Cup, playing the last four of the Asian Games and winning the Suzuki Cup.