Việt Nam must win every match to defend SEA Games title

May 02, 2023 - 16:05
Mai Đức Chung said all the teams taking part in the regional event held in Cambodia were very strong, and despite being defending champions, Việt Nam need to work hard in every game.


Vietnamese players train on May 2 in Phnom Penh. They will face Malaysia on May 3 at the Army Stadium. VNA/VNS Photos Minh Quyết

HÀ NỘI — The coach of Việt Nam’s women’s football team says they must be at their very best to defend their SEA Games title.

Mai Đức Chung said all the teams taking part in the regional event held in Cambodia were very strong, and despite being defending champions, Việt Nam needs to work hard in every game.

A press briefing featuring all the coaches of the teams in Group A, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Việt Nam, was held in Phnom Penh on May 2.

Coach Chung told the media: "We respect all of them. Four teams are strong because ASEAN football has strongly developed recently.”

The 71-year-old tactician said after two days in the Cambodian capital his team's biggest problem was the hot and humid weather.

He said Vietnamese players just finished a training camp in Osaka, Japan, before arriving in Phnom Penh. A difference of nearly 20 degrees between the two cities has strongly affected his players.

He added: "We were in Japan where the weather was cool to train and improve our physique. Our players have reached their best fitness. It is hot here and the players have to adapt to the new conditions.

"However, it is a common problem that other teams also face and have to overcome. All teams here have their own targets. We will have to play hard in every single match."

(Left to right) Coaches of Group A Alen Stajcic of the Philippines, Soleen Al-Zoubi of Malaysia, Tetsuro Uki of Myanmar and Mai Đức Chung of Việt Nam at a press briefing on May 2. 

Việt Nam will play Malaysia in the first match on May 3 at the Army Stadium.

Coach Soleen Al-Zoubi of Malaysia said Việt Nam were strong but they had a game plan to stop the reigning champions.

"The current Malaysian team is built for the future because we have had only a short time to prepare for this tournament,” said Al-Zoubi.

“There is a gap between Malaysia and the regional leading teams but we are trying to catch up.

"I understand Việt Nam well since I was a player for the Jordan national team. I have watched all Việt Nam's matches at the AFF Cup and the Olympic qualifiers. We analysised them carefully and prepared well for my team to find way to stop them."

Coach Alen Stajcic of the Philippines appreciated Việt Nam as the top team in the region. He said Việt Nam were a different rival at the 32nd SEA Games as they were developing strongly.

Việt Nam have skilled players who would compete at the upcoming World Cup, he said, adding that the Philippines would have to try harder to catch up with the defending champions as well as powerful Thailand and Myanmar.

The Philippines, the regional champion, will play Myanmar in the second match, first round, of Group A at 8pm on May 3.

The Group B games will be held on the same day at the RSN Stadium. Thailand will play Singapore while Cambodia face Laos.

Captain Như's target

Coach Al-Zoubi praised Vietnamese captain Huỳnh Như, saying she was one of the sharpest forwards in Southeast Asia.

Vietnamese captain Huỳnh Như (left) is aiming to become top scorer at the 32nd SEA Games. 

She said it was great to have a player who was competing in a European league in the team. Players like Như would push the development of the whole team.

Như, who flew from Portugal to join the national team, said she wanted to be the tournament's top scorer.

She said: "I did not train with my team in Japan but watched their videos of training and competitions to follow the team's preparation. I myself practiced in Portugal to ensure my fitness for the SEA Games.

"However, the weather in Cambodia is totally different than in Japan and Portugal, so all of us have to get used to it. I believe that our team have had best possible preparations for the Games.

"We are in a tough group but we are defending champions, we are confident to play any rival to defend our title. 

"I am honoured to be loved and trusted by the coaching board and teammates. I will convert the heavy pressure into a strong force. I’ve set the goal of being top scorer in all tournaments that I take part in.” VNS