|Viettel players train in HCM City ahead of their opening AFC Cup game against Young Elephants. Photo courtesy of Viettel FC|
HÀ NỘI — Coach Bae Ji-won is confident his Viettel side can get off to a winning start to their AFC Cup campaign, despite only being in charge for a few weeks.
The former Vietnamese national champions will play Young Elephants of Laos today in a Group I fixture at the Thống Nhất Stadium in HCM City.
Bae was assigned to lead the team at the continental tournament after head coach Trương Việt Hoàng asked for a rest.
"I am under no pressure because I have worked with the team for long period. We understand each other on and off the field," Bae said at the press conference yesterday.
"I believe that I can help my players earn good results from this competition," said Bae, who signed a contract with Viettel as a fitness coach in January.
"We are well prepared and we are set to advance to the next round. A good result here will be a strong push for us to compete at the V.League 1's second period (early next month)," said Bae, who is a former assistant coach to the Việt Nam national football team.
In the Asian Cup matches, Viettel will welcome back young players such as Nguyễn Thanh Bình, Nhâm Mạnh Dũng and Trần Danh Trung, who just won the SEA Games 31 gold medal and grabbed remarkable results from the AFC U23 Asian Cup.
Other potential stars like Nguyễn Hữu Thắng, Nguyễn Xuân Kiên and Trương Tiến Anh are expected to shine along, with the veteran teammates Nguyễn Hoàng Đức and Hồ Khắc Ngọc, as well as foreign players Geovane Magno and Pedro Paulo Alves Vieira Dos Reis.
"I will have plans for different matches. Every player will have the opportunity to compete. Young players will get a chance to show their talent," said Bae, who confirmed his skipper Bùi Tiến Dũng will be absent because of injury.
"He suffered a complicated knee problem and will be out for a long time. However, we have substitutes in his place and they will do the job well."
Bae said he had no information about Young Elephants, but it is not really important because the Lao team would not know clearly about his team. Viettel will focus on their playing style and players should follow the tactics.
On the visiting side, coach Satya Sagara said he did not hear about Viettel's coaching change or injured captain, but will keep his eye on midfielder Hoàng Đức, a national team player, who was highlighted by the AFC recently.
Sagara said it was the Elephants' first time at the continental tournament so the key task is to gain experience and play for Laos' pride.
Young Elephants are the leading football club in Laos, contributing 80 per cent of players in the national team. They have signed a contract with striker Aee Soe of Myanmar, midfielder Lucas Paulista of Brazil and two Japanese players, midfielder Shori Murata and forward Ryota Yanagizono.
In the Lao League 2022, Young Elephants are enjoying an unbeaten streak of seven wins and two draws. They have scored 21 goals while conceding only three.
Viettel vs Young Elephants will kick off at 5 pm with ticket prices at VNĐ100,000-200,000 (US$4.30-8.60) each.
The other teams in the group are Phnom Penh Crown of Cambodia and Hougang United of Singapore. Their match will be held at 9 pm, also at Thống Nhất. VNS