|Vietnamese players are training in Hà Nội. They will compete at the coming Asian U23 Championship next month. — Photo courtesy of VFF|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam’s national head coach Park Hang-seo confirmed that his team would try to pull off a miracle at the upcoming Asian Football Confederation U23 Football Championship in China.
Speaking at a send-off ceremony in Hà Nội on Friday, Park said his team had practiced hard since early this month with great support from the Việt Nam Football Federation. The tournament was very close, but the team did not waste any time to improve their strength.
“It is time to show that we have prepared for the tournament. I really want to make a miracle happen there,” said Park through an interpreter.
Việt Nam are in Group D, together with South Korea, Australia and Syria. This is the second consecutive time that Vietnamese players have won a slot at the Asian tournament.
The tournament will kick off on January 9 and Việt Nam will first play South Korea two days later.
Park said South Korea would be the most difficult team, noting he had collected necessary information on Australia and Syria.
“We will play the first match against South Korea. We have almost no information on them as they did not have any match against other foreign teams prior to the tournament. Their games with local clubs were closed to the media. It is hard to approach them, but I finally have something thanks to my personal relationships,” said Park, a South Korean.
For his side, Park said his players showed progress during practice rounds. They understood the tactics and plans of the coaching board. However, they had not met his demands.
“There are many things to do but time is limited. We will have to do our best in each game (against South Korea). We know a little bit about them through their recent 2-3 loss to Ulsan Hyundai, and (Lương Xuân) Trường understands them better as he played in the K.League.
“We should not let them seize the central area. We have to escape from their domination and carry out our strategy. To do this, players must follow tactics and play with discipline,” said the coach.
Park also worried about the Vietnamese players’ physique.
"At around the 80th minute, they were exhausted, and they often lose goals at this time. We have to fix this problem. I found that the upper body of the Vietnamese players was thin, which set them at a disadvantage when vying for the ball. I have asked all of them to practice longer, focusing on developing their upper body strength. It is good news that they are getting better and better," he added.
Asked how he felt about playing against his country’s national team, Park said he was a South Korean but he worked for Việt Nam.
“My country is South Korea. I am a South Korean. My parents live there, and I love my country. But I am now head coach of Việt Nam, and the Vietnamese flag is on my chest now. Honestly, I want to beat them,” he answered.
Presenting at the ceremony on Friday, captain Trường said the whole team had suffered no pressure but felt confident ahead of the competition.
“We worked hard with heavy practice. We know three rivals are strong, but we are keeping our minds fresh. I think we will do a good job,” he said.
The team will leave for China on Monday. They will have about 10 days to get familiar with the weather and terrain.
On January 4, they will play a friendly match against Palestine, which is their final test for the Asian event. — VNS