|In position: Vietnamese players in training. The co-hosts of the AFF Cup will vie with the Philippines today for the top position in Group A. — VNS Photo Tuan Tu
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam and the Philippines will battle it out to secure the top place in their last Group A game, each vying for an advantage going into the semi-final stage of the AFF Cup.
Viet Nam currently rank second with four points after a draw against Indonesia and a win over Laos. A win will place them on top of the group, but a draw against the Philippines today will still send them through.
For Viet Nam's head coach, Toshyia Miura, securing a place in the semi-finals is the main priority, meaning a draw would be fine for him.
"We will protect our second place first before thinking of the top place," Miura said.
The Philippines have already qualified after two convincing wins over Laos and Indonesia, but they have yet to secure top place and need at least a draw to be group winners.
The top-placed team will gain the advantage of playing at home for the second game in the two-leg semi-final round.
The Philippines' head coach, Thomas Dooley, is pushing his team to finish first.
"Obviously it's a very important game tomorrow and we would like to finish the group in first place to gain some advantage in the semi-finals. Hopefully, it's a good game," Dooley said in the pre-match conference.
Filipino captain Rob Gier said that while his team doesn't need to win, a loss could seriously impact on the team.
"It's lucky that we are in a position where we don't have to win the game. In my opinion, Viet Nam is one of the favourites of the tournament," Gier told Viet Nam News.
"It's a big bonus for us to go into the match without needing a win, but obviously we want to keep the momentum going, we want to stay strong and keep the team's morality high, so we will go out for a win," the England-born player said.
Gier has a high opinion of Miura's squad.
"They are strong throughout the whole team. The way they attack is very exciting, very dynamic. There is a lot of pace there," said the 33-year-old.
"The first 20 or 25 minutes will be very important because no doubt fans will be 100 per cent behind their team. They'll try to attack and attack again. If we can hold up, we will have a chance," he added.
Gier said the quality of the Philippines team was significantly improved thanks to a number of players who received training in Europe. He said his team had what was needed to win the title this year.
"Can we win it? I think we have enough quality, but there are also three other excellent teams in the semi-finals. This is an extremely difficult competition where every team can beat anyone, so we have just to make sure that we're on our game in the next two or three weeks and then hopefully on December 20, we'll be the one to lift that cup."
Indonesia and Laos will face each other at Hang Day Stadium in what will be a pride game for both teams.
Laos have already been eliminated after two losses while Indonesia's chances are extremely slim, having managed to earn just one point in two matches. — VNS