|Philippe Troussier talks with players during a training session in March in Hà Nội. The Frenchman is tasked with helping Việt Nam to defend its SEA Games title. Photo courtesy of VFF|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam seeks to win a gold medal at the 32nd SEA Games while head coach Philippe Troussier said his team will be ready after the men's football draw was held on April 5 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Defending champion Việt Nam was placed in Group B with Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Laos.
“Personally, I am not surprised with the draw result. Our coaching board has predicted and prepared for all situations," said Troussier.
"All ASEAN teams are familiar with Việt Nam as we often meet in regional tournaments. I respect all four squads in Group B and will work on each match to have the best result," he said. "Whatever the draw result is and who are our rivals, we will step in the tournament as reigning champion and our target is to defend our place."
The Frenchman said when his team is back for training, they will focus on fixing problems and strengthening weaknesses that were revealed in Việt Nam's poor results at the recent Doha Cup.
"Matches in Qatar gave us valuable experience as players faced quality rivals who were at a higher level. I believe that they would not have this experience if playing locally," Troussier said.
Striker Nguyễn Văn Tùng was also confident about Việt Nam's power, saying if Việt Nam could play as well as they practised, beating Thailand would not be a difficult task.
"All teams are difficult but Thailand is the strongest. They are good in all football levels, especially in the ASEAN region. They are our arch-rival but if we can play properly, Việt Nam can defeat Thailand and all other opponents in this group," he said.
"Our players who were born in 2001 and 2002 have never lost to Thailand in recent years. In 2019, we were also managed by Troussier and met them in the U19 event. We won 1-0," said Tùng, who is expected to be picked for the team.
"I am working hard every day to ensure an official berth in the SEA Games squad. It is good for me and coach as he will have more choices for the front line," he said.
Troussier, when signing his contract with the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF), was asked to lead Việt Nam to the SEA Games final.
However, after the April 5 draw, his task has lifted up to defending the title.
"VFF has anticipated difficulties for the team at the 32nd SEA Games. We have prepared and given all the best for them towards the Games," said VFF General Secretary Dương Nghiệp Khôi.
"The recent Doha Cup's result was not good, but like Troussier said, it was a good lesson for both coaches and players in preparation for the SEA Games. We trust him. He will have suitable plans for different rivals at the Games. We all confirmed to do all the best to complete the mission," Khôi said.
Players will gather on April 17 in Hà Nội for practice. They will have a short course in Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu Province where the weather is similar to Phnom Penh.
Men's football will kick off on April 29, six days before the Games' opening ceremony.
The two best teams of each group will advance to the semi-finals on May 13, and the final will be held on May 16. VNS