Vietnam captain Huynh Nhu is in action
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  • Huynh Nhu skippered Vietnam through to the qualifying play-off
  • In-form forward eyes maiden Olympic qualification
  • Unfazed by the test awaiting against formidable Australia

If the underdogs have their day, then Vietnam can spring a surprise against hosts Australia in Friday’s play-off first leg of Asia’s qualifying for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020.

Even a draw in Newcastle will leave Mai Duc Chung’s visitors with a mental edge heading into the return leg in Cua Ong five days later. Playing in front of their adoring fans, the Golden Girls will give their all in search of their first-ever Olympic qualification.

While this may look like a tall order for the Vietnamese – they’re 25 places below their opponents in the FIFA Coca/Cola Women’s Ranking, it is a plan that captain Huynh Nhu is convinced is possible.

“It is hard to predict a football match but anything can happen before the final whistle,” the 27-year-old Ho Chi Minh City forward told in a pre-match exclusive interview. “Australia are a strong team. They have improved a lot over recent years. I have experiences of playing against them and I know their style of play.”

Vietnam’s record against their rivals isn’t a pretty read from their perspective, with no victories gained in all competitions. Their latest meeting came at the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup when Vietnam conceded eight unanswered goals. Despite that fact, Nhu maintained that they won’t give up without a fight.

“I want to work hard and showcase what I am capable of in each match,” she went on. “If Lady Luck is on our side, I hope that we can make history by sealing our maiden Olympic qualification.”

Memorable campaign

Obviously Nhu’s confidence is backed by her standout performances during the qualifying campaign thus far. The dynamic striker excelled throughout, managing to score three times as they reached the play-off. Notably, she opened the scoring as her side edged hosts Uzbekistan 2-1 in the second round, a hard-fought victory which still left her reflecting with excitement.

“As the host team, they [Uzbekistan] entered the match very well prepared,” she recalled. “They wanted to win the game in front of their supporters. It was the hardest test for us in this campaign. But we emerged the winners. I scored my first goal in the qualifying.”

From there Nhu looked unstoppable. She scored goals against Hong Kong and Jordan as they progressed as group winners. Despite losing big (7-0) to Korea Republic in the third round opener, a solitary-goal win against Myanmar was enough to send them through to the play-off.

“As the captain, my duties are to keep the team’s spirit high. Of course, I need the support of all my team-mates. Football is a team sport and only collective efforts can see us through.

“In my opinion, this is already a successful campaign for us [regardless of the play-off result],” she summed up. “The whole team are united and are working hard for the common cause and we have made progress game after game. I want my team to have a good result and in the future, I hope Vietnam will be a strong team in Asia.”

Vietnam captain Huynh Nhu(R) competes for the ball
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March 24, 2020

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