|Forward Nguyễn Quốc Việt training in Hà Nội ahead of the 19th Asian Games. Photo of VFF|
HÀ NỘI — The recent regional victory and a place in the continental championship are strong motivations for coach Hoàng Anh Tuấn and his players at the 19th Asian Games next week in China.
His young squad won the AFF U23 Championship last month in Thailand and secured their place in the Asian U23 Championship Final last week for the fifth time.
"The successes of our team at the AFF event is a happiness for me, the players, the coaching board and the national supporters," said Tuấn.
"My players showed their determination and bravery to defend our title. It will be a push for us for the later tournaments."
Tuấn on September 13 called 24 players for his squad - four goalkeepers, six defenders, eight midfielders and six forwards - to prepare for the China campaign. This list will be reduced to 22 in the next few days.
Among them, forward Bùi Vĩ Hào successfully scored two goals at the Asian championship. Midfielder Nguyễn Đình Bắc won the MVP of the V.League 1 2023 despite being only 19 years old. Two over-23 players are goalkeeper Đỗ Sỹ Huy and forward Nhâm Mạnh Dũng, who are expected to support their junior teammates to reach the highest result are also included.
Việt Nam are in Group B against powerhouse Saudi Arabia, Iran and Mongolia - the only team in lower than Việt Nam in the world rankings.
Tuấn and his players have three days of training in Hà Nội before leaving for Hangzhou on September 16. They will have another two days of training prior to their first match against Mongolia on September 19 at the Linping Sports Center Stadium.
Việt Nam will then play Saudi Arabia and Iran on September 21 and 24. Quarter-final matches are on September 30. The semi-finals are three days later and the final is on October 7.
|Coach Hoàng Anh Tuấn discusses tactics with players during their training in Hà Nội. Việt Nam will face strong rivals at the 19th Asian Games later this month. — Photo of VFF|
Twenty three teams are divided into six groups. The top two teams from each group along with the four best third-placed teams among all six groups to advance to the knockout round.
The Việt Nam Football Federation does not set any target for the team but expects Việt Nam will qualify for the knockout stage.
"We just have several days working with each other for the tournament," said Tuấn. "Time does not wait for us. We need to set high determination for the Games."
Midfielder Nguyễn Thái Sơn added: "Việt Nam are not afraid of anyone. The more we play the better we will be. We will improve our ability and fix our mistakes. We will be focused and do our best in each game.
"Yes, we have little time to train together for the Asian Games but in fact, we have known each other and competed as a team for a while. We understand each other."
His teammate forward Võ Nguyên Hoàng shared in an interview prior to the training: “We are getting our best fitness and ready for the ASIAD.
"People think that Saudi Arabia and Iran are very strong. Yes, they are but if we can play the best of us, things would be easier. I believe that the strongest rival is ourselves."
In the previous Games five years ago in Indonesia, Việt Nam under beloved coach Park Hang-seo set a milestone when they advanced to the semi-finals. The team lost 1-3 to South Korea which went on to win the championship trophy. VNS