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Vietnam’s Dang prepares for fifth shot at glory

Munich: Vietnam’s evergreen shot-stopper is back for another tilt at continental glory, with 2014’s heartbreaking playoff defeat to Thailand acting as motivation.

For over a decade Dang Thi Kieu Trinh has been an ever-present figure at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

Since making her competition finals debut against a Homare Sawa-inspired Japan in 2006, the goalkeeper, now a veteran at 32, has featured in every edition of the tournament since and seen her side consistently improve.

That improvement almost culminated in a place at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but Vietnam fell agonisingly short, losing 2-1 to regional rivals Thailand the winner-take-all playoff for fifth at the 2014 Women’s Asian Cup in Ho Chi Minh City.

This time around, the Vietnamese Golden Ball winner is motivated to go one better.

“The memories of that match are unhappy ones as we did not perform well and missed the chance to reach the World Cup,” she said.

“We consider the loss of that playoff game as our motivation to play well in Jordan.”

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Under the tutelage of seasoned head coach Mai Duc Chung, Vietnam swept all before them in 2017. 

After consistently slick performances in last April’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers secured their passage to Jordan, they claimed a gold medal at the SEA Games women’s football tournament in Kuala Lumpur and remained undefeated throughout the entire year.

Dang, who considers Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung and Huynh Nhu as key personnel in the Vietnamese campaign, puts the team’s successful year down to the players’ will to succeed, which she said comes from the boss down.

“Before each match, we all promised to play at the highest possible level in order to bring victory to our country, and that was our motivation to play well (in the SEA Games),” she said.

“Head coach Mai is an enthusiastic coach, and he understands each player very well, which is one of the main factors leading to his success as a coach.”


While Vietnam’s form has been impressive, their hopes of a first ever progression to the Women’s Asian Cup semi-finals were dealt a severe blow by December’s tournament draw, which placed the Southeast Asians in a difficult Group B featuring heavyweights Japan, Australia and Korea Republic.

“They are all strong opponents in the world of football, and we will face challenges with this draw result,” Dang admitted, but having played at the highest level of Asian football for more than a decade, an ever-increasing level of quality is something the Dong Thap native is now used to.

“To me, this competition has obviously improved as more and more teams have participated in it and the level of each team is getting better and better as well.”

While Vietnam will need to surprise some of the continent’s best teams in order to make history in Jordan, their goalkeeper is sure to be a reliable source of inspiration.

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