FIFA World Cup 2022 Asian Qualifiers – Preview: Group G

The second round of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 finally returns in full flow after more than 18 months of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the United Arab Emirates playing hosts to Group G.

28/05/2021 16:55:35

With all teams having played five matches already with the exception of the UAE, who have played four, the group featuring four Southeast Asian sides remains wide open, making for a tasty viewing over the next three weeks. previews the upcoming action and the players to watch ahead of the Qualifiers’ resumption on June 3.

Two historic grounds in the old district of Bur Dubai at the heart of the UAE’s commercial capital, Dubai, will host the remaining eight matches of Group G.

Built in 1981 and renovated in 2018 ahead of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, Al Maktoum Stadium is Dubai’s most modern football ground. The 15,000-seater capacity stadium is home to Al Nasr Club, the nation’s oldest football club, established in 1945.

Alongside hosts the UAE, Group G contenders Vietnam and Thailand have both had experience playing on this ground which hosted Thailand’s 1-0 win over Bahrain in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Group A and two matches for Vietnam; a penalty shootout victory against Jordan in the Round of 16 and a 1-0 defeat to Japan in the quarter-final of the competition.

Less than 2 miles away from Al Maktoum Stadium is the second host venue, Zabeel Stadium. Home to Al Nasr’s arch-rivals Al Wasl, this 8,500-capacity stadium was built in 1974 and is notable for its bright yellow colours.

With as little as three points separating the top three sides in the group and its highest ranked side, the UAE close behind the leading pack with a game less played, Group G of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 is set to provide an entertaining final run-in.

Topping the group standings are Vietnam, unbeaten in their first five games, the 2019 AFC Asian Cup quarter-finalists have amassed 11 points, with the highlight of their Qualifiers campaign this far a famous 1-0 home victory against the UAE thanks to a Nguyen Tien Linh strike.

Two points adrift of the summit of the group are Malaysia, hopeful of reaching the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since co-hosting the 2007 edition together with three other Group G nations; Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.

A mixed campaign so far sees Thailand sit in third place with eight points, a convincing 2-1 victory over the UAE in Pathum Thani was followed by a disappointing reversal with the same result against Malaysia, while coach Akira Nishino’s men have also drawn both games against group leaders Vietnam 0-0.

Then there is the UAE, the group’s top seeds and its only nation to have experienced playing in the FIFA World Cup since the formation of the AFC, reaching the 1990 Finals in Italy.

The Whites started the campaign brightly, beating Malaysia 2-1 then hammering Indonesia 5-0, but have since succumbed to back-to-back defeats against Thailand and Vietnam. Having played a game less than their group rivals, they sit in fourth place, but could climb up the table with a win against Malaysia in their next match.

Already down and out of the World Cup race are Indonesia. Ranked 173rd in the most recent FIFA rankings, the first Asian country to appear in the FIFA World Cup has not enjoyed the best of times recently. Five consecutive defeats see them rooted to the foot of the group and in need of a miracle to continue their journey towards China 2023.

If current Group G leaders Vietnam are to win the group and advance to the third round of the Asian Qualifiers, they will certainly look back at Nguyen Tien Linh’s winning goal against the UAE in November 2019 as a key moment.

In the absence of veteran Nguyen Anh Duc who was left out of the squad by coach Park Hang-seo, Vietnam will be looking at the 23-year-old forward to build on a hot domestic form that saw him bag six goals in 11 appearances for Becamex Binh Duong so far.

Source: AFC

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