|High hope: The national U23 football teamcelebrated after a win at the BTV Cup With high unity, Hoang Van Phuc and his players are expected to go far at the 27th Southeast Asian Games. — Photo hff.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam faces a fighting chance to make the men's football competition at the 27th Southeast Asian Games, as the country prepares to battle an old rival.
Viet Nam were drawn in Group A alongside Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, during a drawing ceremony held yesterday in Myanmar's capital of Nay Pyi Taw.
With the exception of defending champions Malaysia, Viet Nam has a favourable track record against competitors in Group A, defeating each team at the two recent Games in Laos and Indonesia.
In the latest encounter at the Games four years ago, Malaysia netted an own goal from defender Do Xuan Hop to oust Viet Nam 1-0 in the final of the 25th SEA Games.
Viet Nam beat Philippines 3-1, Laos 3-1 in the group stage at the Games in Indonesia two years ago, and defeated Singapore 4-1 in the semi-finals in Vientiane.
"The preparation of the U-23 team for the SEA Games has been going well so far and I also feel a strong sense of unity between the coaching board and players."
"I believe the team will achieve good results in Myanmar," the national team's former head coach, Phan Thanh Hung, told Viet Nam News.
Viet Nam has stayed in the top four and five finals since 1995, with the exception of the 2001 Games in Malaysia.
Group B consists of Cambodia, last year's runners-up Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Timor Leste.
While Group A matches will take place at Zayar Thiri Stadium in Naypyitaw, the YTC Stadium in Rangoon city will play host to matches between Group B.
In women's football, defending champions Viet Nam will face off against hosts Myanmar, Philippines and Indonesia in Group A, while runners-up Thailand looks set to dominate Laos, Malaysia and Timor Leste in Group B.
The women's competition will begin on Saturday with all matches to take place at Mandalar Thiri Stadium in Madalay city.
In men's futsal (indoor football), Viet Nam will play Thailand and Laos in Group B while Myanmar will face Indonesia and Malaysia.
Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam will compete in the women's futsal competition in the round-robin format in which two top teams will jostle for gold medal.
Viet Nam will send a contingent of 519 athletes, 231 coaches and 29 experts, with high hopes of securing 70 gold medals at the competition. Meanwhile, Viet Nam looks set to make the top three for a sixth year at this year's Games.
Viet Nam will attend the Games with 100 athletes fewer than two years ago, due to the host country's ability to choose sports that favour homegrown advantages.
Athletics will comprise the largest portion of Viet Nam's contingent with 43 athletes competing in the region's biggest biennial sporting event, followed by football (40), Petanque (24), volleyball (24) and karatedo (21).
Athletics is historically the largest contributor to Viet Nam's medal tally, with gold medal hopes resting on short-distance, decathlon and jumping events.
Martial arts may also prove to be a honey pot for Viet Nam with the karatedo, judo, taekwondo, wushu, pencak silat, vovinam muay and wresting events expected to provide around 30 gold medal opportunities for Viet Nam. — VNS