Việt Nam welcome rivals, ready for U23 competitive matches

September 06, 2023 - 07:04
As hosts of Group C, Việt Nam, world No 95, will entertain Guam (203) on September 6, Yemen (156) on September 9 and Singapore (158) three days later, at Phú Thọ Province's Việt Trì Stadium.


Coach Philippe Troussier encourages his players during a training session ahead of the AFC U23 Asian Cup. Việt Nam is targeting a top-place finish in Group C. Photo courtesy of VFF

HÀ NỘI Việt Nam is considered one of the strongest teams in the 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup and will aim to finish the group stages in top place.

As hosts of Group C, Việt Nam, world No 95, will entertain Guam (203) on September 6, Yemen (156) on September 9, and Singapore (158) three days later, at Phú Thọ Province's Việt Trì Stadium.

"We welcome all three guest teams and hope they will have a good experience during their time in Việt Nam," said coach Philippe Troussier.

"In theory, Việt Nam is the strongest team but in reality, we must work hard on the field and we are ready for the first match."

The French tactician has prepared his team for weeks for the continental tournament in which Việt Nam made a big impression in 2018, finishing second.

"We have been working together since March 1 and I have called 70 players to different training camps. Several players have been training with me for five years since they were 17-18 years old.

"We understand each other and players know and catch up with my requirements. We will be together to overcome interesting challenges including this U23 competition."

Việt Nam are currently number one in the ASEAN region, but Troussier said he not only wants to hold this position strongly but also push his youngsters beyond their limits and reach the continental level.

Singapore will compete in a U23 event for the first time since the SEA Games 32nd loss. — Photo of Photo of FAS

At the press conference, coach Nazri Nasir of Singapore said he respected all teams in the group.

Nasir has taken charge of the team after Singapore's humiliating defeat at the 32nd SEA Games in Phnom Penh in May. Due to the team's problems, they skipped the AFF Cup and the Asian Games. The Asian qualification is the first one since they suffered four losses in a row at the SEA Games.

"To prepare for the Asian U23 qualifier, the national championship has been paused. Most of my players are proactive, they can play in different positions, helping the team to change from 4-3-3 to 3-4-3 formation depending on our opponents. We will consider reality to have the best plan," said Nasir.

Coach Miroslav Soukup of Yemen expected interesting group matches and believed all teams were on an equal footing. The best will qualify for the finals in Qatar.

Yemen players train after arriving in Việt Nam on September 2. — Photo of VFF

Yemen just finished its training camps in Iraq and Egypt. They bring to Việt Nam 15 national senior team members. The determined squad arrived in Phú Thọ on September 2 and trained hard targeting a top place of the group.

Meanwhile, Guam coach Dominic Gadia hoped his players of Guamanian origin based in the United States would help his team to have positive results.

Gadia said it was the team's first time at this competition. He did not care much about the score but looked towards a stable foundation of the team.

Guam expects positive results at their first AFC U23 competition. — Photo of VFF

"Việt Nam has earned remarkable achievements recently. We must respect them. On our side, we have the United States-based players and this is an opportunity for them to shine," said Gadia.

Việt Nam played Guam twice in the past and won all with huge scores of 9-0 and 11-0 at the Asian Cup in 1996 and 2000, respectively.

Guam's latest win was a 5-0 match against Bhutan in 2019 before suffering a streak of 10 defeats.

Forty-three teams are divided into 11 groups with 16 qualifying to play in the finals including Qatar who qualified automatically as hosts.

The finals are scheduled for April 15-May 3 next year. Three top teams will automatically qualify for the Paris Olympics' berth while the fourth-placed one will compete in a play-off match against African representative Guinea for their own opportunity. VNS