|Practice session: Viet Nam's U23 players take part in their first training day yesterday in preparation for the ASIAD in South Korea. — VNS Photo Tuan Tu
HA NOI (VNS) — Vietnamese men's and women's teams have been given favourable draws at the upcoming 17th Asian Games (ASIAD) in Incheon, South Korea.
The men have been drawn in Group H with Iran and Kyrgyzstan, while the women are in Group C alongside North Korea and Hong Kong.
"I think we have a chance to make it through the group phase. However, the most important thing is that our young players have to train hard. I believe new players will contribute to the success of the Olympic team at Asiad," said Japanese head coach of the men's team, Toshiya Miura.
Iran are stronger than Viet Nam and are likely to top the group. The ticket to move further in the event is the fight between Viet Nam and Kyrgyzstan. At present, Kyrgyzstan rank 144th in FIFA's world rankings, with, Viet Nam at 139.
"Iran are the continent's leading team so it will be difficult to beat them. For Kyrgyzstan, I don't know much. I will examine the two rivals carefully to give us the best chance of qualifying for the last 16," Miura added.
Twenty-nine teams will take part in the men's event, divided into eight groups.
Coach Miura on Wednesday included many new faces in the U23 team in preparation for the Games.
The new members are key players of the U16 and U21 teams, such as midfield player Duy Khanh, fullbacks Van Manh and Minh Hai and halfbacks Phi Son, Sy Sam and Hung Dung.
He also brought in V-League's experienced players such as Buu Ngoc, Manh Hung, Thanh Hien and overseas Vietnamese player Mac Hong Quan.
Miura's assistants will guide the team because the 51-year-old coach is busy with the national team who are training for the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, beginning on November 22.
Before leaving for the ASIAD which will be held from September 19 to October 4, Miura will cut down his U23 squad to 20 players.
The team will have three friendly matches to test their line-up ahead of the Games. They will meet the national football team on September 2, and will play two games with Pakistan on September 4 and 8.
At present, the team is training at the Viet Nam Football Federation's youth football training centre for 20 days.
The women's event has attracted the participation of 11 teams divided into three groups. The top eight teams will compete in the next round.
The team will first play North Korea on September 16 and will go up against Hong Kong a week later.
After the draw, coach Mai Duc Chung said his team had a good chance of entering the quarter-final round of the tournament.
According to regulations, the top two teams of each group and two third-placed teams with the best results will automatically advance to the next round.
Chung said North Korea were a strong team and would definitely take one of two tickets. Hong Kong will be the rival to beat for Viet Nam because the two are at the same level.
"North Korea are one of the world's strongest teams, and they have returned to competition after a doping ban. I don't have much information about Hong Kong yet, but I believe they are a team that Viet Nam could not look down on," said Chung.
"I consider Korea to have already qualified for the next round, and the match between Viet Nam and Hong Kong will be an early finals for us. It will not be an easy match, but Viet Nam will be the winner," he added.
Chung summoned his team for practice in mid-August and said his players showed remarkable progress in spite of a week of training.
"Their tactical minds and physique are strongly upgraded. They are all in good condition. I hope they will play well in Incheon," the coach said.
Viet Nam will also be sending two referees, two assistant referees and a supervisor to the Games. — VNS