|Vietnamese players practise in Hà Nội in preparation for the match against Oman at the Mỹ Đình Stadium on March 24. Photo courtesy of VFF|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam coach Park Hang-seo has admitted to feeling pressure ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifying match against Oman at the Mỹ Đình Stadium in Hà Nội today.
The South Korean does not have all his strongest players available after several were hit with COVID-19.
"Things do not go right with our team. Some players are injured while others have got COVID," said Park at a presser on March 23.
"These problems strongly affect our plan. Initially, we had 10 to 12 days of preparation. But because of V.League's late matches, some players came late for training, and then many other things happened," said Park, who recovered from COVID a week ago.
"Currently, there are eight players isolated. I will have to call up some U23 players to replace them. I will consider carefully before picking the final line-up."
Park said he had asked his defenders to focus on corner kicks, as they saw Việt Nam lose in the first match. They were also reminded to concentrate and avoid simple mistakes.
Park said being a coach was a tense job, as they were constantly stressed and worried, no matter the tournament level or whether the opponent was strong or weak. But he has been familiar with pressure for a long time.
Vietnamese supporters are hoping for a win over Oman, and he said that while he could not know the result, his team would do their best score.
"We lost 3-1 in the first match. In the world rankings, Oman is higher than Việt Nam, but we are not scared of them. We are just worried about our playing squad. My keys players Phan Văn Đức, and Bùi Tiến Dũng will be absent," he said.
Việt Nam can no longer qualify for the World Cup, and the team are at the bottom of the group with three points from a win over China in February.
Oman coach Branko Ivankovic said he was confident of a win. Although his team was also ousted from the tournament, they would play for the country, supporters and every team member.
The Croatian refused to talk about the Vietnamese players and said he only cared for his team and wanted to do the best for them. However, he said Việt Nam would be better than in the first match, after their win over China and a good performance against Australia.
After hosting Oman, Việt Nam will fly to Tokyo to play Japan in the last qualification match on March 29.
The good news for Park is that his first-choice goalkeeper Đặng Văn Lâm will be ready to join the team in Japan.
Lâm, who plays for J.League side Cerezo Osaka FC, has recovered from a shoulder injury and returned for training after four months out. — VNS