|Crunch time: Ha Noi T&T coach Phan Thanh Hung (second, left) shakes hand with Kitchee SC manager Abraham Aliagaduring a press conference yesterday in the capital city. The two sides will play today at Hang Day Stadium. — VNA/VNS Photo Quoc Khanh
HA NOI (VNS) — Ha Noi T&T's young players will play Kitchee Sport Club of Hong Kong in the second preliminary round of the AFC Champions League today at Hang Day Stadium.
Despite their loss to V.League champions Becamex Binh Duong in last week's National Super Cup because of six inexperienced members, coach Phan Thanh Hung said he would continue to be patient with the youth.
"The young players are the club's future. Yes, they lack experience but they will grow up in time," Hung said at a press conference yesterday in Ha Noi.
"We have to give them a chance so that they can replace their seniors in the future," he said.
The Super Cup loss and the busy competition schedule did not seem to affect his squad's spirit, as captain Gonzalo Damian Marronkle said his team gave priority to the coming Asian Football Confederation (AFC) match.
"We have played the Cup, the ASEAN IFO event and the FLC Thanh Hoa tournament. We also have to prepare well for the coming V.League, which kicks off on February 20. But tomorrow's match is important and we also want to win," the 31-year-old striker said.
Apart from young players of Ha Noi T&T, the national runners-up will present their best line-up and hope to achieve success at the tournament, which is of a higher level compared to the local ones.
"We have achieved remarkable results at the V.League and the National Cup for years. Now we look forward to the better-quality events, including those organised by the AFC," Hung said.
"We want to play in continental competitions and win them. It will be difficult, but we do pay attention and will always try the best," he said.
Meanwhile, Coach Abraham Aliaga of Kitchee said he hoped his team would play on a good grass field and that there would be no rain in order to achieve the best result.
The Spanish coach said the cold weather in Ha Noi was not a problem with players from Hong Kong, who experienced the same weather last week in their home city.
Food and all other things were not a matter of concern for them ahead of the game.
Kitchee, who are a strong team with five national team players and four foreigners, are ready to play as they are the defending champions.
"I just have some information about Ha Noi T&T. They are fast with good and strong players. But we are confident because we worked the whole season to be here today. We had a good result (beating South China 3-0 on Saturday, the latest match of the Hong Kong Premier League)," Aliaga said.
Kitchee, the best known club in their home, have participated in the AFC event five times.
Their best result so far was a berth in the semi-finals of the AFC Cup in 2014.
The winner of the Ha Noi T&T versus Kitchee match will advance to the play-off round, where they will face Pohang Steelers on February 9.
The play-off winner will secure a place in the group-round stage, beginning on February 23.
Viet Nam's champions Becamex Binh Duong are in Group E, which has Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea and Jiangsu Suning from China. — VNS