Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam coach Nguyễn Hữu Thắng said his team is not dependent on any one player for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup, which starts later this month.
Thắng was referring to injured midfielder Quế Ngọc Hải, who has not recovered completely from a twisted ankle, and defender Trần Đình Hoàng, who will most likely miss his first regional tournament because of a knee cartilage tear.
Thắng said his substitutes could take their positions in case these players fail to make it. “I build a team based on group of people so that we don’t have to depend on any one individual. No one is so important that he cannot be replaced,” the coach said to reporters at a media meeting on Tuesday.
The players have just returned home after a two-week training in South Korea, one of the last steps in the team’s preparation for the AFF Cup.
After a day’s rest, players resumed practice so that they can be ready to show their abilities and win a berth in the final list.
Currently, Thắng has 31 players practising. This number will be reduced to 23 closer to the day the team flies to Myanmar for the Cup. No one can be sure of a place as they are all perfecting their playing style, Thắng said. All of them need to put in more effort to make it to the final list.
“During the Korean training course, I found that my players are good in all ways, physically and tactically. They can carry out what I tell them with a different line-up and when facing different teams,” the coach said. “In the three friendly matches, my players did a good job against bigger, taller rivals. They manage the ball and set the pace of the game a little better every day.”
Captain Lê Công Vinh shares Thắng’s opinion.
“The course and the matches have helped us gain more confidence against the Malaysian players, whose physique is better than their technique,” Vinh said, adding that winning a berth in U19 World Cup squad will play a strong role in encouraging the national team.
Thắng also credited fitness coach Martin Forkel, who has been with Việt Nam for only four months, for improving his players’ physique.
“They have to work hard, then do everything faster in a methodical way,” Forkel said. “I work with every player individually. I watch their performance and then plan out what they have to do to improve their strength.”
Forkel said he’s getting the players to do different exercises not only to improve their physique but also to better their endurance.
“They learnt quickly. Some of them really like my exercises, some need more time to develop a better physique, but it is not a big problem. Like I said, they need to work hard and everything will be okay.”
Việt Nam will play two friendly matches ahead of the AFF Cup. On November 8, they will host Indonesia, an AFF Cup team, in Hà Nội. Four days later, they will welcome Japanese club Avispa Fukuoka in Cần Thơ Province.
Việt Nam’s first AFF tournament match is on November 20, when they play Myanmar in Group B. Other members of the group are Cambodia and Malaysia.
All teams have been busy with preparations.
Myanmar sent its team to Europe where they competed against powerful rivals from Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. Coach Gerd Zeiss did not care much about the results, his aim was to build team spirit and gain his players experience.
Zeiss has not taken his star striker Kyaw Ko Ko and midfielder Thiha Zaw, which is good news for other Group B teams. The omission came as a shock as Ko was considered to be one of Myanmar’s key players. The 23-year-old has been in great form at the club level, scoring 13 goals in the domestic league for his club Yangon United. Myanmar will play Indonesia in a friendly match on November 4.
Malaysia are going through a difficult time because of retirement and injury issues, but coach Ong Kim Swee has said he believes his team will be in the semi-finals.
Preparing for the Cup, Malaysia lost to Indonesia before they drew Singapore and Afghanistan. They will have a last friendly match against Papua New Guinea on November 14. The heat will be a challenge for the team in Yangon as they have to play at 3pm.
Cambodia, excited after a successful qualification in which they won three matches, scoring eight goals and giving away three, are said to be the arch-rivals. They will face Malaysia in the first match on November 20. — VNS