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Việt Nam or Uzbekistan to become U23 champions

Update: January, 27/2018 - 07:00
Vietnamese players practise in Changshu yesterday. They will face Uzbekistan in the AFC U23 Championship final today. — Photo VFF
Viet Nam News

Football

HÀ NỘI — Either Việt Nam or Uzbekistan will become the new U23 football champion on Saturday, after their final match at the Changshu Olympic Sport Centre in China.

During a press conference yesterday, coach Park Hang-seo praised Uzbekistan and stated that they have worked hard to find out their weaknesses.

“I think Uzbekistan have a strong and aggressive playing style. Individually, their players are skilful and physically strong, and as a team, they are well organised and possess great speed. So, we must play at our best. We met them at a friendly tournament in Thailand, where we lost 1-2, but they have been much better. Their presence in the final proves that,” Park said.

Park is also impressed with three players - defender Akramjon Komilov, midfielder Jasurbek Yakhshiboev, and forward Zabikhillo Urinboev.

He urged his players to stay calm and collected, as they have done before the last match.

“Tomorrow’s match is very important. I told my players that the most important thing is to maintain their composure throughout the match, where both sides have an equal chance of winning,” Park stressed.

“We have analysed our rivals and practiced well for the match. I want our players to prepare calmly without worrying. We are just one step away from making history for Vietnamese football. I want to pass on confidence and determination to them, to achieve the best result in the final,” he noted while adding that cold weather could be a disadvantage for his team, but it is just one of the difficulties that they have to overcome.

From China, Park further said that he was moved to see images of fans wildly celebrating and encouraging his squad from Việt Nam.

“With the sight of Vietnamese football supporters celebrating on the streets of Việt Nam, our players could not believe it when they saw it on social media,” he stated on the-afc.com.

“When I saw that, I was really happy. But I also understood more about my own ability as a coach, and I am hoping not to disappoint the Vietnamese supporters. We can fulfil the wishes of all the Vietnamese people,” he further added.

Captain Lương Xuân Trường stated that he and his teammates are in good spirits and are totally focussed on the game.

“We understand our tasks and responsibilities. We will do our best for our supporters. We will try to give them a gift on Saturday,” he said.

Meanwhile, heroic goalkeeper Bùi Tiến Dũng said that his team are ready for the match, which may be played in the snow.

“For some of us, it will be our first time playing in snow. It will be difficult for us, but we will try to adapt to the conditions. We played Uzbekistan last December, and I think that they are strong, but we have done well too. We will play at 100 per cent,” Dũng added.

Park and his team are also supported by the team’s technical director, Jurgen Gede, who previously worked with the Uzbekistan national team.

Gede was an assistant coach in 2003-04 and became head coach in 2005-06. He was replaced by the current coach, Ravshan Khaydarov, who also manages the U23 squad.

During the tournament, Gede was assigned to watch all Việt Nam’s rivals, and he provided valuable advice to help the team overcome their challenges.

Apart from Gede, the 59-year-old Park still has other special weapons. “I told you about a special thing. Please wait to see how it will work out in the final. Just reveal that it will come from my players,” he further stressed.

The Uzbek coach, Khaydarov, was cautious when talking about Việt Nam, whose are masters of the counter-attacking game, but he was adamant that his team’s achievements in the tournament will count for nothing when they face an impressive Vietnamese team.

“Of course, we are very happy to be playing in the final, and it is an important game for us,” he said on the-afc.com.

“We are expecting a very tough game against Việt Nam, who have done very well during the tournament. It is the final, and both teams will obviously try hard to win the game. We are ready to fight as hard as we can,” he added.

“We have prepared well over the past few days, and I hope that my players will play at their optimum level on Saturday,” he further added.

Meanwhile, captain Zabikhillo Urinboev said that Uzbekistan are strong as a team, and each player does their job well.

His teammate, Odiljon Xamrobekov, said that Uzbekistan needs to be confident and respect their rivals, because Việt Nam are a team of excellent players, who are skilful and never gave up. Otherwise, they may suffer a disappointing result, he added.

He stressed that some Uzbek players are exhausted and they need to recover as quickly as possible, because they have the opportunity to win their first U23 title.

The final match will be aired live from 3pm Hà Nội time on VTV2, VTV6 and Fox Sport Channel.

In the latest fixture of the tournament held yesterday, Akram Afif scored the only goal of the game, and a penalty save by Yousof Hassan sealed a 1-0 win for Qatar over South Korea in the third place play-off match. — VNS

 

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