|Vietnamese team train for the opening match against Laos in the AFF Cup 2020 today. — Photo courtesy of the VFF|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam attend the upcoming AFF Cup 2020 as the defending champions and coach Park Hang-seo admits that puts great pressure on both himself and his team.
"The Vietnamese team has just competed in six matches in the World Cup 2022 qualifying round and lost all six games," said Park at an online press conference held in Singapore on Saturday.
"This affected the team's spirit. We also have a burden and pressure as the defending champion. Group B and Group A also have a lot of strong teams. The results are unpredictable, but we will try each match to get the best results."
However, the South Korean coach also believes there have been positives to take from the World Cup qualifiers, even though Việt Nam lost all six games.
He believes that during the matches, his team never lost their fighting spirit, even though they were pitted against some of the best teams on the continent.
Việt Nam are in Group B of the AFF Cup 2020 alongside Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Laos. Group A consists of Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Timor Leste.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, hosts Singapore tightened safety regulations.
Coach Park said that the Vietnamese team have been present in Singapore on December 1 and had three training sessions for the Cup.
At present, Việt Nam hasn’t had any injury concerns. A number of players returned after a period of rehabilitation such as midfielders Trần Đình Trọng and Trần Minh Vương. They were very energetic and completed the lesson plan in training sessions.
However, midfielder Đỗ Hùng Dũng missed the AFF Cup 2020 after the host country refused the procedure to apply for an entry permit to Singapore.
Earlier, the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) received an official document from the Singapore Football Federation announcing the case of Dũng. As a result, Dũng wasn’t allowed to enter Singapore to attend the AFF Cup 2020 with the Vietnamese team.
Dũng was called back to Việt Nam team and reunited with his teammates in Vũng Tàu on November 27. After that, the VFF registered Dũng on the official list of the Vietnamese team as stipulated by the AFF Cup's organisers.
However, the time to make invitations for players to compete in the AFF Cup was until the end of November 24, while Dũng’s case wasn't added until November 29. So the AFF Cup 2020’s organising board refused him permission to take part.
When asked if Dũng's absence had any effect on the team, coach Park said: "We all know that Dũng has been out of the game for a long time due to his injury. The coaching staff wants Dũng to return to the team to regain his form. It's really difficult to talk about his contribution."
The Vietnamese team during the past have also trained without Dũng. Coach Park can also feel assured because of the very rapid progress of Nguyễn Hoàng Đức, in addition to the return of Nguyễn Tuấn Anh and Phạm Đức Huy.
Việt Nam will begin their journey to defend the AFF Cup championship with the opening match against Laos today.
“The first game is always stressful," coach Park said.
"We were also troubled by the lack of information about the Lao team. We play in the context of COVID-19, so everything is very strictly controlled. The team only move within the range from the hotel to the training ground and the stadium. This also affects us mentally, but we have to adapt to this. We will try our best in the match against Laos." — VNS