Japan vs Vietnam

Japan’s Asian Cup campaign gets underway at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium against Vietnam.

Heavily fancied to add to their trophy collection, Japan head into their Group D opener seeking to extend a six-game unbeaten H2H run against Vietnam (W5, D1) and perhaps set the tone for their first Asian Cup triumph since 2011. Their pre-tournament form speaks volumes, with Hajime Moriyasu’s side racking up an eye-catching ten-match winning streak since a 2-1 friendly loss at the hands of Colombia in March 2023. Virtually unplayable in continental action, the ‘Samurai Blue’ kicked 2024 off with an overwhelming 5-0 victory against Thailand before putting Jordan to the sword in their final warm-up fixture 6-1. Indeed, free-scoring Japan have netted 4+ goals in nine of their ten international wins in the past ten months, highlighting the potential for a memorable curtain-raising outing.

In contrast to Japan’s outrageous form, Vietnam’s recent showings spell trouble, with a 2-1 loss to Kyrgyzstan in their opening 2024 game marking their fifth defeat in their last six internationals (W1). To make things worse, Vietnam’s fragile backline capitulated at least twice in all five losses during that stretch, casting significant doubt on their ability to fend off Japan’s formidable frontline. Their chances of scoring look equally bleak, considering they’ve failed to get on the scoresheet in four of their last six matches, which has incidentally been the case in four of their six meetings with Japan since 1973. With that in mind, replicating an impressive run to the quarter-finals in the previous Asian Cup edition seems highly improbable.

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