|Setting the pace: Viet Nam's U23 team train in Malaysia for the 2016 AFC U23 Championship qualifiers. — Photo vff.org.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Coach Toshiya Miura says Viet Nam's national U23 team is primed to face Malaysia in the 2016 AFC U-23 Championship qualification match in Kuala Lumpur today.
"After a month of preparation, we are ready for the match against Malaysia. My players have improved their tactics and are in good physical condition. They are co-ordinating well with each other. We aren't under any pressure and the players are feeling comfortable," Miura said.
Viet Nam seem to have their best players for the match.
The qualifying round brings together 43 teams drawn in ten groups, with the ten group winners and five best runners-up will qualify for the finals to be held in Qatar early next year.
Viet Nam, in Group I along with Japan, Malaysia and China's Macau, aim to finish second in the group.
Miura said Malaysia has also prepared carefully and played many friendlies.
"I appreciate Malaysia highly, but the chance to win for two teams is 50-50," the Japanese coach said.
He also said that Japan are likely to lead the Group, so Viet Nam need to beat Malaysia to secure second place.
"Japan are too strong, they surpass other rivals so will easily top the group. I don't know Macau much but Viet Nam can beat them. We must focus on defeating Malaysia. Only by besting the hosts can Viet Nam have hopes of entering the final round," Miura said.
Malaysian coach Ismail Razip said at the press conference yesterday that his team was also ready for the match against Viet Nam.
"It is very important because it will decide who will move to the final. Malaysia wants to have a favourable start to create a driving force for the two remaining matches."
Tran Huu Nghia, chairman of Viet Nam Football Fans, said not many fans from Viet Nam are flying to Malaysia today, but nearly 3,000 Vietnamese living and working in Malaysia will be at the Shah Alam Stadium to cheer their home team.
"We request Vietnamese fans to be friendly and avoid confrontations against other fans. We also suggest that the event's organising board strengthen security and ensure safety for the match as well as Vietnamese fans, avoiding any regrettable problems," said Nghia.
Violence broke out last December after Viet Nam beat Malaysia 2-1 in the first leg of the ASEAN Football Federation-Suzuki Cup semi-final in Malaysia. Fans from a section of the Malaysian crowd threw plastic bottles at Vietnamese supporters.
Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, president of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), told the media that Vietnamese fans will be safe.
The president said FAM has co-ordinated with security agencies to guarantee safety. Vietnamese fans will be seated comfortably in a "private" area, he said.
In other upcoming matches, Viet Nam will play Japan and Macau on March 29 and 31, respectively.
After the AFC qualifying round, Viet Nam will continue training in preparation for the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore this June, where they hope to win the title. — VNS