Under-21s confident of title defence
HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam will defend their title at the Thanh Nien (Youth) newspaper's International U21 Football Championships to kick off on Thursday in Pleiku, Gia Lai Province.
The team comprises 22 players, selected at the newspaper's local tournament last week.
"Our players are in good spirits and will start training on Monday," coach Dinh Van Dung said.
It is the third time Dung has had charge of the Viet Nam U21 team. In 2007 his team triumphed over Thailand in the final and three years later they stole bronze from Malaysia in the playoff.
Last year Dung assisted coach Nguyen Quoc Tuan when they beat Iran 2-1 in the final.
This year there will be eight participants, two more than in previous years, as Singapore and Malaysia join the fray.
U21 Malaysia team, guided by coach Ong Kim Swee, competed at the Southeast Asian Games last year and took a gold medalin Indonesia.
Among their 20 members, 18 participated at the Asian Football Confederation's U22 competition in June, when they beat Viet Nam 3-0, including striker Rozaimi Abdul Rahman, who scored a hattrick.
Singapore also competed in the June event.
"We are preparing for the coming SEA Games next year," said Visakan Subramaniam, head of the Singapore delegation. "This tournament will be a great experience for us."
The Asian Football Confederation will provide two certificated referees and two assistants to the Thanh Nien tournament.
The Viet Nam Football Federation has assigned FIFA referee Vo Minh Tri, referee Vo Quang Vinh and assistants Tran Thanh Liem and Nguyen Hoang Minh to the competition.
The final is scheduled for October 21. — VNS