'This is the best Vietnam team I have ever seen': No one remembers style, just get Socceroos to World Cup says Darby – FTBL Australia

Australia and the Golden Star Warriors will lock horns in Melbourne in January 27 in their second Group B match, with the third-placed green and gold in desperate need of a win.
The two nations met in Hanoi in September, with the Socceroos finishing with a 1-0 victory.
Now they need another to try and catch Group B leaders Saudi Arabia and second-placed Japan.
Darby knows the region well, having coached Vietnam’s national women’s team and in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Laos, as well as down under.
The Englishman has been impressed by the current Golden Star Warriors’ XI, but says they do not travel well for away fixtures and will be impacted by being recently eliminated at the semi-final stage of the AFF Championship.
“This is the best Vietnam team I have ever seen,” Darby told FTBL.
“I’ve been watching them for 20 years. Previously they were a team of very talented individuals who relied on stars to get them somewhere. Players such as Hong Son and Cong Vinh. They were happy to be the best in SE Asia.
“This is a better team. Very well organised, super fit and not overly reliant on one player. They have been revolutionised by the Korean Coach Park. The biggest factor being that he has been ‘allowed’ to coach by the administration.
“A problem that Australians may not understand but is the scourge of South-East Asia. Coaches are continually interfered with and usually sacked quickly! By administrators.
“Believe me they will be playing with national pride. It means something to play for their country. It’s not just about money to them. Their weakness may be they don’t travel well.
“Also most of their players come from the V league which has poor facilities and is sadly corrupt.”
Vietnam won the AFF Championship, also known as the Suzuki Cup, in 2018 but in the current tournament were knocked out in the final four by Thailand on Boxing Day.
Darby believes this will impact the national team ahead of their World Cup qualifier.
“The media is very powerful in Vietnam and drives the fan opinion and more and more drives social media opinion,” the veteran coach said.
“The fans understood and respected the World Cup qualifying games where they were beaten, but played well and got respectable results. They certainly ‘closed the gap’ on bigger teams.
“But they find anything other than winning the Suzuki to be a disaster. In my opinion they should have played a developmental team in the Suzuki and left the seniors at home to rest as they have been playing non-stop.
“They should be aiming for Asian Cup success and World Cup qualifying for 2026. But the reality is there is no long-term development in most Asian countries except Japan and Korea. And who are the most successful?”
Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has faced some criticism over his tactics after Australia drew and lost its last three matches.
But Darby says all that is important is qualifying for Qatar, not debates over philosophy or style.
“All that matters is getting the three points,” the 66-year-old said.
“It doesn’t matter how you get to the World Cup, just get there! No one remembers all this style or philosophy rubbish as long as the Aussies get to Qatar.
“If you are being honest this is not a star-studded team with well-known names such as Cahill, Viduka, Schwarzer and Kewell. The only names that jump out to non-Australians are Ryan and Rogic.
“So it’s more of a workmanlike team that has to work like a team to succeed and not rely on some individual magic. Also, you have to take in the Covid situation which has been a logistical nightmare for Australia compared to other countries.
“The Socceroos are in a tough group, Japan and Saudi are good teams and China should be if they ever get organised. I think it will be close and may depend on other results.
“Even if they finish third I think they would win a play-off against the other group third-place, which looks like being UAE. That group is a two-horse race now.
“If they go through this route the tough one will be the Confederation Playoff in the one-off game v the CONMEBOL qualifier, which could be Colombia, Uruguay or Chile. All tough opponents.
“The aim must be to get in the top two spots in their group. There are 12 points available, six from the games vs Vietnam and Oman are essential. The other six against Japan and Saudi will not be easy.
“Especially away vs Saudi. I think to qualify they have to beat one of Japan or Saudi Arabia.”


Leave a Comment