|All smiles: Coach Toshiya Miura of Viet Nam (right) shakes hands with coach Thomas Dooley of the Philippines at a press conference after the AFF Suzuki Cup draw yesterday in Ha Noi. Viet Nam and the Philippines are in Group A. — VNS Photo Tuan Tu
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam has been placed in Group A of the Suzuki Cup ASEAN Football Federation after a draw in Ha Noi yesterday.
The co-hosts will compete against the Philippines, Indonesia and the runners-up of the qualification round.
Group B consists of Thailand, Malaysia, defending champions and co-hosts Singapore and the winner of the qualification round.
The qualifying round will take place in mid-October in Laos with five participants – Timor Leste, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and the hosts. The two best teams will advance to the finals.
The group's final round is scheduled a month later between November 22 and 29 in Ha Noi and Singapore.
Teams will compete in the round robin format with two top-placed teams entering the semi-finals, which together with the final match, will be organised on the home and away field format from December 6 to 12.
Speaking after the draw yesterday, Viet Nam's coach Toshiya Miura said although local media appeared optimistic about the outcome of the draw for his team, he himself thought that appearances could be deceptive.
"Viet Nam, which was in the same situation two years ago, did not qualify in the last Suzuki Cup," he said adding that no one could predict the future.
In 2012, Viet Nam had Thailand, Philippines and Myanmar in their group, but failed to make the knock-out round.
Asked how he would prepare for the tournament, the Japanese said he would infuse new blood by bringing in young players into a team which was not a title favourite this year.
He would spend time to check out other teams who he had almost no idea about, as he had spent a very short time working in Viet Nam.
Muira said teams in the region were on the same level, so each team was as tough as the other. However, Viet Nam used to be the champions, so he had set a target to win again.
Striker Le Cong Vinh, who scored a golden goal for Viet Nam pushing the team to the top podium in 2008, said he really wanted to play in Group B which was called a death group.
"As hosts we will have the home advantage and support of millions of fans. If we get through the group round, we will avoid them [Thailand and Malaysia] in the semi-finals. Then the door to the final is wide open," Vinh said.
"This year we have a squad of young and experienced players as well as a new coach. I believe that this combination will fetch us favourable results," he said.
"We need to analyse every rival, especially the Philippines who brought us down in the two previous tourneys. We will create suitable plans for each of them," Vinh added.
In the last nine meets between Viet Nam against the Philippines and Indonesia, the hosts won only twice, lost four and drew thrice.
In the history of the biennial tournament which started in 1996, Singapore has been the most successful team with four titles in the bag. The Thais come second, taking the prestigious trophy in 1996, 2000 and 2002.
Viet Nam and Malaysia have won one each, in 2008 and 2010, respectively.
The winners of the 2014 tournament will earn US$200,000. The runners-up will take home $75,000, while the two third-placed teams will reveive $50,000 each.
In preparation for the Cup, Vietnamese players will get together on August 22 for a friendly match against North Korea team on September 1 before taking part in a training course in Japan. — VNS