The Vietnam women’s football team created history when they qualified for their first FIFA Women’s World Cup. They defeated Thailand and Chinese Taipei in the playoffs to qualify.
Vietnam have also been competing in the Asia Cup, a tournament that doubles as a World Cup qualifying event. Nobody gave Vietnam much of a chance after they lost 3-1 to China in the quarter-finals, having earlier lost to Japan and Korea Republic in the group phase. The four semi-finalists in the tournament gained automatic entry into the World Cup, while a fifth team would also qualify through a playoffs system.
Vietnam did things the hard way as they lost in the quarter-finals and then went into the three-way playoffs with Thailand and Chinese Taipei. Thailand were the favorite to qualify from the three as they were the highest-ranked team and had the experience of playing in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Each team played each other once and the team with the most points after these matches would qualify.
Vietnam saved their best performances when it mattered the most and achieved brilliant victories in their two matches.
Vietnam surprised Thailand 2-0 in the first match, and Chinese Taipei also beat hapless Thailand by a 3-0 margin. The match between Vietnam and Chinese Taipei become a straight final, with the winner advancing to the World Cup. Chinese Taipei only needed a draw because of their superior goal difference. This meant that Vietnam needed a win as their goal difference was inferior to Chinese Taipei.
Chinese Taipei, knowing that a draw would secure their qualification, sat back in the match and allowed Vietnam to attack, but this tactic backfired when Vietnam took the lead in the seventh minute courtesy of a Chuong Thi Kieu header from a corner.
This sparked Chinese Taipei into action, and they attacked ferociously and were rewarded early in the second half when they equalized in the 49th minute. They looked to have the match under control, but Vietnam had other ideas and took the lead again in the 56th minute. However, this time they held on for the win to create history for Vietnamese football.
Their qualification will have far-reaching implications for a nation that loves football.