Midfielder Nguyễn Trọng Hùng (right) and his coach Park Hang-seo. Hùng has recovered his injury and is ready for the upcoming 2020 AFC U23 Championships finals. — Photo vff.org.vn
HÀ NỘI — The United Arab Emirates are very strong but Việt Nam aren’t afraid of them, according to midfielder Nguyễn Trọng Hùng.
Việt Nam will kick off their campaign against the UAE tomorrow at the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championships finals in Thailand, knowing a top-three finish will book a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Việt Nam are in Group D with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan and North Korea.
“The whole team have searched the UAE carefully. They are a strong team and play technically but Việt Nam aren’t afraid of them. I am sure that head coach Park Hang-seo has tactics to face them. I hope Việt Nam will have a successful event,” said Hùng after training in Thailand.
Hùng has recovered his left thigh injury which he suffered in the 6-0 win against Brunei in the Southeast Asian Games last month. He played in two recent friendly matches with Bình Dương and Bahrain to prepare for the championships.
Hùng has been a key player of V.League 1 side Thanh Hóa for the two last football seasons.
“I and my team have a very good spirit and focus with a high level of determination for the upcoming match. My physical strength and psychology are very good. I am in good shape and ready to play,” said Hùng.
For the first match, defender Hồ Tấn Tài is suspended as he picked up two yellow cards in the qualifying round, so coach Park tested Hùng in a new role on the right side of defence.
“Playing in a new position isn’t a problem for me. Professional players must adapt to new situations and do their job well. I am confident playing in all positions which the coaches put me in,” said Hùng.
Defender Huỳnh Tấn Sinh said Việt Nam had moved on from finishing as runners-up at the same tournament held two years ago in China.
"The miracle in Changzhou is a story of the past, and at present we are only focused on the upcoming clashes of the 2020 tournament,” said Sinh.
Ahead of the tournament, the AFC named the opening Group D clash between Việt Nam and the UAE among the five must-see matches in the group stages.
The AFC hailed Việt Nam as one of the favourites to claim the trophy this year.
“Unlike 2018, Việt Nam will go into this campaign among the favourites and, up against the UAE in their first game, it will be interesting how Nguyễn Quang Hải and co. deal with the added pressure. The Golden Stars have enjoyed a remarkable rise since their runners-up finish two years ago, winning the 2018 AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Championship and reaching the last eight of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 as they continue to go from strength to strength,” said the AFC on its website.
The confederation touched upon the UAE’s goal to nil defeat against Việt Nam in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers last November, stating that following the teams’ success over recent times, Vietnamese football is becoming a real powerhouse.
Following the game with the UAE, Việt Nam will take on Jordan on January 13 and will wrap up the group stage against North Korea on January 16. — VNS