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U16s hoping to reach AFC championship final

Update: September, 16/2015 - 08:23

Gather around: Coach Dinh The Nam of Viet Nam (centre) talks with his players during a training day in Ha Noi. Viet Nam will play Myanmar in the opening match of the Asian Football Confederation U16 Championship qualification's Group J today. — Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Not just coach Dinh The Nam of Viet Nam, but managers of three other teams are also hoping to win a ticket to the Asian Football Confederation U16 Championship's final.

Viet Nam are in Group J along with Australia, Guam and Myanmar in the qualification round.

"We have one month training ahead of this qualifying round. Players are selected from the best national football training hubs who have experience playing with several local rivals at a higher level," Nam said at a pre-tournament press conference in Ha Noi yesterday.

"After the ASEAN tournament, the coaching board has made efforts to remove our weaknesses. My team is on the right track now and we are ready," Nam said.

The coach added that the Asian U-16 qualifier is a more difficult competition in comparison to the regional one, although it is also for young players.

"One of the key elements is the strong spirit of the participants who have not played too many games in their career. So, my team will have to try and win every match, especially the ones against Myanmar and the strongest one Australia," Nam said.

"All the teams want to advance to the final and Viet Nam is no exception."

Vietnamese captain Nguyen Trong Long also took part in the press conference yesterday.

He said the Vietnamese players fell a little pressure but hoped that the support of home fans will be a strong motivator for them to achieve the best result.

Coach Eric Williams of Myanmar appreciated the hosts who they will meet in the opening match today at the National Youth Football Training Centre.

"Tomorrow will be tough for us, as I have watched the Vietnamese players competing during the ASEAN tournament. We will have to give off our best if we want a win," he said.

Myanmar have not been able to prepare carefully for the event as their training abroad was cancelled. The team practiced locally and had several matches against some young squads of domestic clubs.

Also speaking at the press conference yesterday, Peter De Roo of Australia confirmed that there were several players in his team with skilled techniques, but their strong point was team unity.

Roo said Viet Nam were a well-organised team and would be difficult rivals for anyone.

The Australians arrived in Viet Nam six days before the competition to familiarise themselves with the weather and the field. And he expected his players to show their best form when the games kicked off.

Meanwhile, Guam are the best-prepared squad with a training course in South Korean coach Kim Sang Won's home country where they played four local teams.

Kim said he was really satisfied with what they had done, especially in the area of physique.

"Guam played pretty well recently thanks to some players who are taking part in competitions in the United States. In the near future we will be even better, as we have our own national football academy and a programme to promote youth football," Kim said.

Forty-five teams, which will play in the qualifying stage, have been divided into 11 groups.

In each group, the teams will play each other once at a central venue. The 11 group winners and the four best runners-up from all groups will qualify for the final tournament, which will be hosted by India. As hosts, India have qualified automatically, but will also compete in the qualifiers.

If India are among the group winners or the best runner-up, the fifth-best runner-up will also qualify for the final. — VNS

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