Myanmar game difficult as Cup opener: coach, players

Update: November, 17/2016 - 08:00
Vietnamese players train in Yangon, Myanmar, on November 16,for their AFF Cup journey. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam’s coach and players confirmed that their first match against Myanmar on November 20 at the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup was very important to achieve their goal.

The team arrived in Yangon on November 15 and had their first training shift just five days before their opening game.

Head coach Nguyễn Hữu Thắng said: “We are always aware of our target (entering the final match) at this championship and have worked hard to reach our peak this time.

“In my opinion, the first game against the hosts will be tough and I hope my players will bring into play all their strong points for a positive result.”

Veteran midfielder Phạm Thành Lương believed it would be a difficult competition, as apart from Thailand who were at a higher level, the remaining teams were all at a similar level; however, Myanmar had huge support of thousands of local fans since they were playing on home turf.

His young teammate Nguyễn Tuấn Anh shared the view.

In an exclusive interview with website FourFourTwo, the 21-year-old declared Myanmar were the team to beat if his nation wants to progress in Group B.

“Malaysia have had some troubles recently, so for me Myanmar are the most dangerous opponent in our group,” the midfielder was quoted as saying.

“They’ve had an excellent preparation and their youth system is very good as shown by the fact that they reached the U20 World Cup last year.

“They have many young players with very good technique, and in addition to that they also have the home advantage, so they are the side we are most worried about," Anh, who has not at his best because of a leg injury picked up during training for his club side Yokohama FC, said.

In Yangon, Việt Nam will also have to deal with the hot weather.

Fitness coach Martin Forkel said his players were accustomed to the heat following their time in HCM City, but that seemed nothing compared with the high temperatures in Yangon, which were often over 30 degrees Celsius.

“The first match we play at 6.30pm local time, so it will be okay. But the second game starts at around 3pm; it is still very hot so I guess it will be a challenge for us,” striker Nguyễn Văn Quyết said.

However, he said players must adjust to everything and luckily there was time for them to get accustomed to the weather.

Players to watch

Following the first training, goalkeeper Huỳnh Tuấn Linh, who represented the Việt Nam team, told the international media: “At the moment, Việt Nam are ready for the Cup. We will put forward our best performance and spirit. We will try hard for a win over Myanmar in Group B’s opener.”

Việt Nam, who pocketed positive results during their preparation for the Cup, are considered one of the strongest teams and have attracted regional journalists.

Some players have been highlighted as those to watch during the November 19-December 17 event.

Among them is striker Lê Công Vinh, who is on top of the list.

His younger teammate Lương Xuân Trường has also been honoured by FOX Sports Asia as one of the players to watch

FOX Sports Asia took an in-depth look at Việt Nam and said midfielder Anh is technically an excellent central operator, who is able to control the rhythm and tempo of a match and provide a key link between defence and attack. The website also evaluated forward Nguyễn Công Phượng as another fine technician, who show both precision in his passing and movement and is a genuine goal threat.

FOX Sports Asia named Trường as a possible contender for MVP following his star performance at a recent friendly match where he displayed his full range of passes and dominated the middle of the park.

Trường also received strong support from his K-League’s Incheon United.

On its website, Incheon provided Việt Nam’s game schedule and appealed to its supporters to encourage their beloved member.

The 21-year-old also had the attention of coach Masami Ihara of Japanese club Avispa Fukuoka, which played a friendly with Việt Nam last week.

Ihara also showed interest in striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn and midfielder Ngô Hoàng Thịnh, saying that the trio showed their speed and intelligent playing style. They were good enough to join the J.League, he said, adding that he would seriously think about bringing them to Japan. — VNS