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Asian Qualifiers - Group G Preview: UAE, Vietnam in tussle for top spot; stakes high for Thailand, Malaysia


Dubai: Group G of the Asian Qualifiers to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 is set for a thrilling final showdown with group leaders Vietnam facing their nearest chasers the UAE while third-placed Thailand play fourth-placed Malaysia on Tuesday.

With just two points separating the sides going into the final matchday, it will practically be play-off game between Vietnam and the UAE with the winners going into the final round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers.

Less than four miles away at Al Maktoum Stadium, neighbours Thailand and Malaysia lock horns at the same time, and with their tallies level at nine points, the winning side will secure third place in the group.

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UAE v Vietnam

Having proven themselves to be a class above the rest of the group, Vietnam are unbeaten in seven and need one point from their final game against UAE to secure a place in the final round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the first time in their history.

Nguyen Tien Linh’s wonder strike from 30 yards was the difference when the two sides met in the reverse fixture 18 months ago. A famous victory for Vietnam in front of 37,000 fans at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi set the rhythm for them to as they went on to top the group with 17 points from five wins and two draws.

When the Asian Qualifiers finally resumed earlier this month, the UAE’s hopes of progress to the next round seemed improbable after they had lost to Vietnam and Thailand in their last two matches before the pandemic-enforced stoppage, but a stellar run of form over the past two weeks on home soil saw them climb to within touching distance of the top spot.

The Whites restarted their campaign with a 4-0 defeat of Malaysia, then that Thailand defeat was avenged with a 3-1 victory before Ali Mabkhout and co put five past Indonesia, but in order for them to complete their mission and reach the final round of the Asian Qualifiers for the second time in a row, head coach Bert van Marwijk’s men need one last big performance and the three points against Vietnam.


UAE v Vietnam
Venue: Zabeel Stadium, DubaI
Kick-off: 20:45 hours (UTC+4)


Thailand v Malaysia

While Vietnam and the UAE battle for the top spot at Zabeel Stadium, there will be an equally heated encounter at the neighbouring ground of Al Nasr Club as ASEAN rivals and neighbours Thailand and Malaysia face-off in a derby with more than bragging rights at stake.

Both sides have no chance of progressing to the final round of the Asian Qualifiers, but a win on Tuesday could be the difference between playing in the third round of the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers or potentially going the extra step of facing one of the other fourth-placed teams in a qualifying play-off.

Nearly 40,000 fans were in presence at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur when goals from Brendan Gan and Mohamadou Soumareh helped Malaysia turn the game around, having fallen behind to an early Chanathip Songkrasin goal.

Thailand have since failed to win any games while Malaysia only defeated Indonesia as the two sides find themselves level on nine points going into the final match. A draw favours Malaysia to snatch third place on grounds of a superior head-to-head record while a win for either side guarantees that spot.


Thailand v Malaysia
Venue: Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai
Kick-off: 20:45 hours (UTC+4)

*Polls end at 23:00 hours (UTC+8) on June 15.

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