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MD1 - Group G: Thailand 0-0 Vietnam

Pathum Thani: The spoils were shared in Group G’s first ASEAN derby, with Thailand and Vietnam playing out a 0-0 draw in their opening FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers match on Thursday.

Reigning regional champions Vietnam and a Thai side in their first match under head coach Akira Nishino both had their moments in Pathum Thani, but neither managed to find the breakthrough required to make a winning start to their campaign.

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For both sides, it was the opening Asian Qualifier that came with a major tournament buzz, but a packed Thammasat Stadium was nearly silenced as Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Toan pulled an effort at goal narrowly wide just seconds after the kick-off.

Having avoided early disaster, a Thailand side missing several of their recognised attacking options began to make inroads, and perhaps should have gone ahead, when Thitiphan Puangjan’s 20th-minute header failed to find the target with Vietnamese goalkeeper Dang Van Lam in no man’s land in the closest call before the interval.

The pace sharpened and intensity lifted early in the second half. Nguyen Cong Phuong was introduced for the visitors, while Thitphan drew a strong save from Van Lam before Sarach Yooyen flashed a long-range effort wide shortly after.

Vietnam provided occasional reminders of their own threat, often looking dangerous when they ventured forward, but rarely testing Siwarak Tedsungnoen in the Thai goal, with substitute Vu Van Thanh’s on-target 70th-minute attempt one of the rare exceptions.

Their moment looked to have arrived when Van Toan got in behind the defence with just over 10 minutes remaining, but, with a desperate Theerathon Bunmathan for company, he was unable to control the ball sufficiently to produce an effort on goal.

Thailand had a similar final opportunity in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time, but Van Lam denied Supachok Sarachat’s effort from an acute angle as the two regional heavyweights emerged from the first test in their Asian Qualifiers campaign with a point each.

The result stretches Thailand’s winless run on home soil to five matches, meaning Nishino’s charges will travel to Jakarta for what already looms as a pivotal clash against Indonesia on Tuesday, while Vietnam will return to action against Malaysia on October 10.

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