Winners: Vietnam and South KoreaWho would have guessed Vietnam would be on a two-game Unity Cup win streak? Even more unlikely, they have knocked off consecutive African nations (Kenya and Togo). Team Vietnam has grown every year, and the commitment to soccer in not just the Vietnamese, but entire Asian community, is paying dividends. They still have a tough road ahead with Panama and Brazil in their group, but even a draw in either of those matches could propel Vietnam into the knock-out round.
Only once in three years had South Korea knocked off an African team (Nigeria 2016), but they managed to do it again versus Ethiopia this past weekend. In the past, their group wins have come when it is too late, but with an opening match victory, they now control their own destiny. They will need to pull one more upset over either Mexico or Nigeria to advance. The way these two opened the season, the other teams in their group should not take them lightly!
Losers: Mexico and Puerto RicoMexico managed to watch a 2-0 lead dissipate in the final nine minutes against a Nigeria team they had dead to rights. Granted, the draw may not hurt them when it comes to advancing, but it could cost them a few seed lines when the knock-out rounds begin in September. For a team with high hopes before the tournament began, they might have a tough road if they make it out of the group stage.
Since their appearance in the third place game two years ago, Puerto Rico is now 2-2 in their last four games, with one win coming over Bhutan in last year’s group stage. To state that Puerto Rico is leaking oil would be an understatement! Coach Danny needs to get his troops back on track ASAP, or they’ll be watching the knock-out rounds from the sidelines for the first time in their four years in the tournament.