Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam U23 national team will play Iraq in the quarter-final match of the Asian Football Federation (AFC) U23 Championship in China today.
“I saw all the matches of Iraq in the qualifying round and they changed their style in each match. They are very strong. They have good skills and flexible moves as well as good physical strength,” said Việt Nam’s coach Park Hang-seo in the press conference ahead of the game held in China yesterday.
“We prepared well for the coming match. Maybe we won’t only focus on defense, we will play attack when we have chances,” said Park.
Việt Nam earned their place in the top eight as runners-up from Group D after notching an impressive 1-0 win over Australia and drawing goalless with Syria in the last Group D match. Iraq topped Group C following a 4-1 win over Malaysia before a draw with Saudi Arabia and a 1-0 triumph over Jordan.
Facing Iraq is surely difficult for Việt Nam as Iraq are among the candidates to win the tournament’s title. They triumphed at the event in 2014 and finished third in the 2016 event.
However, every team have their weakness and Iraq is no exception, according to technical director Jurgen Gede of Việt Nam’s team.
“Iraq have many national footballers in their line-up. They are a strong candidate for the title. However, they have weaknesses and Việt Nam will take full advantages of these,” said Gede.
“The important thing is that Việt Nam need to recover their health, especially after the match with Syria,” said German Gede.
After the match with Syria on Wednesday, Việt Nam had a day off on Thursday to prepare for the coming knockout phase.
According to coach Park, at present no one on the Việt Nam team has met heavy injuries and he believes anything can happen in football.
“Before starting this biennial international event, we didn’t have much information about Iraq and their matches. But I think that they are a very strong team, however, I always believe that a miracle can come in football,” said Park who was known as the No 1 assistant of Guus Hiddink, who led the South Korea team to the semi-finals of the World Cup 2002 and the U23 team to win the bronze medal at the Asian Games in the same year.
“Việt Nam need to try their best more to make a special showing even stronger,” the 58-year-old Park added.
“Việt Nam have to show that they are an united community and team. I can’t say exactly how what the odds are that Việt Nam will win but I affirm that Việt Nam is preparing for the win, not for failure,” said Park.
Meanwhile, coach Abdul-Ghani Shahad said his team would play with focus to beat Việt Nam.
"We realise that this match is in the knockout stage and we have to keep our concentration during such a match, so all our thinking is focused on qualifying for the semi-final,” said Shahad at the the-afc.com.
“Every match has its own circumstances and it is too early to talk about the style play of each team.
"We have to be ready for every possibility in this match, whether we have to play extra time or even a penalty shoot-out. Of course, we want to finish the match in 90 minutes, but at the same time we realise the importance of this match and we must remain focused no matter how long it takes,” Shahad added. — VNS