Newcastle: Vietnamese midfielder Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung believes her side must unite as one to remain competitive with a star-studded Australia in the final play-off round of the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Drawn against the likes of Chelsea’s Sam Kerr and Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord, Vietnam are clear outsiders in the two-legged play-off, which begins in Newcastle on Friday, with the winners to advance to July’s Tokyo 2020 women’s football tournament.
The Matildas have the more celebrated players, the stronger international pedigree, and, for Friday’s first leg, home ground advantage, but while Vietnam – ranked 25 places behind Australia at 32nd in the world – face an uphill battle, Dung said the team’s strength lies in its unity.
Kuala Lumpur: Four teams remain in the race to join hosts Japan as Asian representatives in this year’s Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, with Australia to face Vietnam and Korea Republic to meet China PR in the final play-off round.
As the long and winding road to Tokyo 2020 nears the finish line, the-AFC.com takes a look at some of the key numbers from the previous round of Qualifiers.
Glory for Kerr, Ji as Chelsea win FA Women’s League Cup
Nottingham: Australia’s Sam Kerr claimed a rare piece of club silverware, while Korea Republic’s Ji So-yun added another trophy to her impressive collection as Chelsea beat London rivals Arsenal 2-1 to win the FA Women’s League Cup at the City Ground on Saturday.
An injury-time winner from two-goal striker Bethany England proved decisive, with an Arsenal side featuring Australian ace Catilin Foord, and coached by countryman Joe Montemurro, left to lament a missed opportunity.
Chelsea led at half-time but had to endure wave after wave of Arsenal attacks as the game wore on, with Leah Williamson equalising in the 85th minute, before England tapped in in the final moments to seal the win.
Takakura: I'd be lying if I said there was no pressure
Tokyo: Asako Takakura will be hoping she has a stay to remember in her nation’s capital. As coach of the Nadeshiko, hosts at Tokyo 2020, her goal will be to reach the gold medal match at the Olympic Stadium on 7 August.
After a tough learning curve for a young squad at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, Takakura’s troops have their focus firmly on this year’s Olympics.
FIFA.com sat down with the former midfielder and FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup-winning coach to discuss last year’s “disappointing” World Cup, and welcoming the world to Japan for Tokyo 2020.
Unchanged squad for Play-off as Matildas eye Tokyo 2020
Sydney: Australian women’s national team head coach Ante Milicic has put an emphasis on consistency, naming an unchanged 20-strong squad for next month’s AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament final Play-off against Vietnam.
Group winners in the previous round in Sydney, Milicic has rewarded his players by selecting an identical squad which claimed big wins over Chinese Taipei (7-0) and Thailand (6-0) before being pushed to the limit in a 1-1 draw with China PR.
Good buildup will take China PR to Tokyo 2020, says skipper Wu
Sydney: A fully fit China PR will be confident of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by overcoming Korea Republic in a two-legged play-off next month, according to captain Wu Haiyan.
Having overcome all manner of obstacles to advance from Group B of the Final Round of the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers in Sydney over the past week, the Steel Roses came within two minutes of securing top spot with a shock win over Australia.
A spirited, disciplined performance looked to have paid dividends when Tang Jiali put China ahead in the 86th minute, only for Emily van Egmond’s rocket in the third minute of added time saving the day for the hosts, whose draw was enough for them to top the group on goal difference.