|High hopes: Viet Nam have been drawn in Group D at the AFC U23 Championship in Qatar next year. — Photo bongdaplus.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — The head coach of Viet Nam national men's football team,Toshiya Miura, has said he hoped a miracle could happen for his team at the AFC U23 Championship in Qatar early next year.
Viet Nam has been drawn in the event's Group D along with Jordan, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Australia.
The official draw was conducted at the Four Seasons Hotel in the Qatari capital of Doha on Saturday.
Viet Nam and Thailand secured their spots at the tournament, after being the best second-placed teams in the qualifying round. Meanwhile, Jordan, UAE and Australia were the winners of the qualifying round.
"Things will be a bit tough for us, but the experience will certainly help our players. We'll start full-fledged preparations in early December. We'll draw up a list of friendly matches soon. Frankly, not many people expect us to reach the knockout stage. But we'll give it our best. Miracles can happen on a football field," Miura was quoted as saying on the website the-afc.com.
As planned, Viet Nam will meet on December 6 to prepare for the tournament. The team will later meet Jordan on January 14, Australia on January 17, and UAE on January 20.
Among those teams in Group D, U23 Australia are satisfied with the draw.
"There are no easy games at this level and we're lucky to avoid some of the top teams. Viet Nam is playing in our region and they're a tricky opponent. Jordan and UAE are West Asian teams, so they know the conditions in Qatar better than us. Our target is to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games and we want to work hard to achieve it," said Matthew Sheppard, Team Manager Australia, as quoted by the-afc.com.
U23 Australia is training in Europe, after defeating U23 Turkey in a recent friendly match. Their line-up includes many players who have competed in Europe.
Meanwhile, coach of UAE team Abdulla Ahmed Al Ali emphasised that Australia is easily the strongest team in the group.
"Physically, they'll be tough to match. While the Jordanians are strong, Viet Nam, as an ASEAN team, can't be underestimated. We'll reach Doha three days prior to the start of the event. Unfortunately, we won't have enough time for friendly games, but we'll offer opportunities for our new players to compete."
While Maher AM Tumeh, team manager of Jordan, said his team will be well-prepared for the tournament and their players believe they can do well. They have three more months to practice and will try to play some friendly matches in preparation for the tournament.
The 16 participating teams have been split into four groups of four teams. The top two teams in each group (eight teams in total) will qualify for the knockout stage.
The winner, the runners-up and the third-placed team will qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Football Tournament. — VNS