|Viettel are looking for their third win in a row at the AFC Cup. They will play Singapore's Hougang United today at the HCM City's Thống Nhất Stadium. — Photo of Viettel FC|
HÀ NỘI — Viettel are considering their last Group I match against Hougang United today as an 'early final' at the AFC Cup, as a loss will see them crash out of the regional tournament.
Viettel coach assistant Đặng Thanh Phương said although the hosts only need a draw to go through, they are targetting a win.
"It is an important match. Viettel are currently top of the table due to a better goal difference, ahead of Hougang. We have a small advantage but we do not expect a draw from this match. We want to walk away as the winner," Phương said at the press briefing on Wednesday.
He said Viettel's previous match against Phnom Penh Crown was a win, but was not enough to satisfy people's trust. The last group round match will be different as players are asked to play their best for their supporters who travelled from Hà Nội to HCM City to cheer them on.
"I have evaluated my team and Hougang United and selected the most suitable line-up. They will have to play the game our way," Phương said.
National midfielder Nguyễn Hoàng Đức also took part in the briefing.
"Pressure is there in all matches but we know how to escape it. I will go on the field with the strongest determination and a target a win," Đức said.
"I have no holy or lucky items for my competition but I always look to the sky before entering the field and wish for a positive result. I also tell myself to strive hard every time and do my best. I hope to score in tomorrow's match to help Viettel finish the group round on top," the national player said.
Đức said Viettel, who will have to do without head coach Bae Ji-won because of COVID-19, will change their playing style to make sure of a win at Thống Nhất Stadium in HCM City.
He believed it will be a quality and beautiful match to serve the team's target and supporters' expectations.
On the other side, coach Clement Teo of Hougang Utd said it would be a decisive match for both teams. While Viettel needs a draw, Hougang must win to advance to the next round.
While Viettel are not competing at their home ground, the match is still in Việt Nam so they will have the advantage of 'home soil'.
He said although his team are at a lower level compared to Viettel, his coaching board have identified some weaknesses.
In the coming match, if Hougang win it will be a good sign for both the club and Singapore's football.
Viettel and Hougang United will kick off at 5pm. The winning team will advance to the ASEAN Zone's semi-final, which will be held in early August.
In the later game, Young Elephants of Laos will play Phnom Penh Crown. Both of them have been eliminated after two losses. VNS