U23s move to Qatari Asian Cup with confidence

April 09, 2024 - 08:36
The team wrapped up their two-day training camp in Hà Nội but had to say goodbye to key defender Phan Tấn Tài who suffered a knee injury and would not recover in time for the tournament later this month.


Việt Nam's U23 players in a training session in Hà Nội on April 7. They will have 10 days to prepare for the Asian Cup in Qatar. Photo courtesy of VFF

HÀ NỘI — The Việt Nam U23 squad left for the Qatar AFC Asian Cup yesterday brimming with confidence despite injuries to key players.

The team wrapped up their two-day training camp in Hà Nội but had to say goodbye to key defender Phan Tấn Tài who suffered a knee injury and would not recover in time for the tournament later this month.

Tài is one of important players in the current U23 side along with midfielder Phạm Thái Sơn, Khuất Văn Khang, Lương Duy Cương, striker Nguyễn Đình Bắc, and keeper Quan Văn Chuẩn.

Striker Nguyễn Thanh Nhàn was also sent back to his club due to an injury. Nguyễn Văn Tùng was called up in the last minutes to replace him.

However, all players showed determination and desire to play and set the goal of going as far as possible in the continental tournament.

"The training camp was shorter than usual and most of us did not get to play much in the domestic league, so it would not be easy," Cương said.

"In our training sessions, coaches mainly focused on strengthening their physique. Everyone was asked to improve our physical strength for the upcoming tough tournament."

Asked about his chance to make the starting eleven, Cương who was a regular face of the team under former coach Philippe Troussier, said he was confident with his preparation and presentation during training.

“I also had a chance to show my ability at the club's matches. I am determined and will reach my peak in Qatar, helping Việt Nam go as far as possible," said Cương who has played for the national several times.

Along with Cương, midfielder Khang is also one of the most experienced members of the team.

He was with the national team competing at the 2023 Asian Cup and 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

“We will return to Qatar where I have visited many times for different tournaments. The laST Asian Cup was a bad memory but also a reminder to push me to try harder," said Khang.

"I set myself in the best mode in this competition so that we could advance close to the final and have a chance to earn an Olympic spot."

For 1.87m-tall Nguyễn Thành Khải, this is his first time with the U23 team. The defender who plays for V.League 2 side Đà Nẵng admitted feeling a little pressure but said he received strong support from teammates and coaches.

“I am here to play and learn. I will try my best to adapt the team's tactics. We are all excited about training and looking forward to the Qatar event," he said.

Coach Hoàng Anh Tuấn talks with his players after training. — Photo of VFF

On April 7, the director of the Sports Authority of Việt Nam Đặng Hà Việt and Việt Nam Football Federation Vice President Trần Anh Tú visited the squad.

Việt hoped that the U23s would perform impressively, matching the historic silver position finish in 2018 and using that as motivation to achieve a high result.

He wanted players to bring into play their ability to help Việt Nam first qualify for the knockout stage and then concentrate on the next step.

Coach Hoàng Anh Tuấn confirmed that his team would be united and determined for the best result in the Cup, meeting local supporters' demands.

In Qatar, his players will have about 10 days to train before a friendly match with Jordan on April 10.

Việt Nam will first face Kuwait on April 17. The two next games will be against Malaysia on April 20 and Uzbekistan three days later.

The Asian Cup's top three will qualify for the Paris Games while the fourth-placed one will compete in a play-off match against Guinea, a representative of Africa, for the last Olympic slot. — VNS