The World Cup debutants got Kiwi keeper Michael Woud into action twice in a minute. First, they denied Doan Van Hau from a distance, before scrambling to claw away Nguyen Quang Hai’s cheeky attempt directly from a corner.
It seemed that Cameroonian referee Sidi Alioum refused a penalty to Viet Nam at the 37th minute when Reese Cox let a ball touch his hand in the box.
After the break, Viet Nam continued to be more inspired but their high-energy exploits saw batteries begin to drain and New Zealand began to find pockets of space higher and higher up the field. As the clock wound down, there was still a chance for Viet Nam to snatch a historic win, but Nguyen Hoang Đuc blazed over as he arrived at the far post.
Captain Hai and midfielder Duc told reporters that Viet Nam would definitely win if the two teams meet again in the future.
“I am proud of my team and want to say thanks to (more than 10,000) supporters. I am surprised because so many people came to encourage us. Hope they will follow us in the next matches,” coach Hoang Anh Tuan said after the match.
“Some mistakes were made and players could do much better. If we could get three points today, things would have become easier. But it is an important point for us, which strongly pushes us up in this challenging tournament,” said Tuan, adding that it was normal when opportunities were wasted in football, and now his team would focus 100 per cent for the game versus France on Thursday.
On the other side, coach Darren Bazely of New Zealand said he was disappointed but one point was a good start for his team. He said he was not surprised by how good the Viet Nam players were as they have good technique.
In the earlier match of Group E, tournament favorites, France, eased to a 3-0 victory over Honduras. Ludovic Batelli’s side could have been in front inside five minutes had Honduras keeper Javier Delgado not been alert to Jerome Onguene’s header, but it only delayed the European champions by 10 minutes, with Jean-Kevin Augstin slamming home a free-kick from about 20 metres.
Amine Harit struck the second goal one minute before the interval. Martin Terrier made no mistake to seal the fate of the game with 10 minutes to go.