|Hopeful: Coach Hoang Van Phuc speaks at a press conference yesterday. — Photo thethaovanhoa.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam coach Hoang Van Phuc said he would wait until the last possible minute before deciding whether to play his best striker Le Cong Vinh against Hong Kong tonight.
The Vietnamese striker twisted his ankle some days ago but was expected to recover in time for the 2015 Asian Cup qualifier.
"I will wait for the doctors' report tomorrow morning (Wednesday) before I make a decision," said Phuc at a press conference in Ha Noi yesterday.
The manager really needs Vinh to return following poor performances by his other strikers in a friendly match versus a South Korean student team on Monday.
However, Vinh was still hobbling yesterday and his participation in tonight's match remains uncertain.
In the first leg in Hong Kong last March, Viet Nam lost 0-1.
Phuc said his team, who can no longer progress in the competition having failed to win a match so far, are determined to win their first game of the group.
"In the first leg we played well in the first half but were exhausted in the second, leaving a chance for Chan Wai Ho to score the only goal of the game. We also had several chances but failed to score. We hope to make amends for that on Wednesday and catch them on the break," he said.
"Apart from Vinh and goalkeeper Tran Buu Ngoc, all the other first-team players participated in Monday's warm-up."
On the other side, coach Kim Pan Gon is confident of victory.
He said his players had been busy in the local league so had been unable to train much together in preparation for this game. However, he added his players had reached 85 per cent and he hoped they would peak tonight.
The Hong Kong squad arrived in Viet Nam some days ago, and includes some naturalised players such as Andy Naegelein from Germany, Wisdom Fofo Agbo from Ghana and Jaimes McKee from England.
Kim said the first leg match was a tough victory, but that was nearly a year ago and his players had shown much improvement since then.
Hong Kong captain Chan Wai Ho said all his teammates dreamed of competing in the final round of the Asian Cup, and they needed three points to have a chance of qualifying as the best third-placed team for the competition in Australia next year. Yang said his squad would fight until the end.
After five games, the United Arab Emirates top the table with 15 points, followed by Uzbekistan (10) and Hong Kong (four). Viet Nam have lost all five of their matches so far.
The match, at My Dinh National Stadium, will be broadcast live from 9pm on VTC3.
At the same time at the Bunyodkor Stadium in Tashkent City, hosts Uzbekistan will entertain the United Arab Emirates. — VNS