Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam will face Pakistan in the opening of Group D in the men’s football at the Asian Games (ASIAD) 2018 in Indonesia today.
South Korean head coach Park Hang-seo said that Pakistan were the mystery package in the group.
“Among teams in Group D, I worry the most about Olympic Pakistan as over the past three years, Pakistan was banned from international football by FIFA so I don’t have much information about them but I’ve used my connections to learn more about them,” said Park.
According to Park, the upcoming match against Pakistan will be very important if Việt Nam wants to qualify for the next phase, so his U23 team must be going for three points.
Việt Nam left for Indonesia on August 11 and have undergone several training sessions to prepare for their first game.
Việt Nam tested their line-up at the recent International U23 Football Tournament – VinaPhone Cup 2018 in Hà Nội, and went on to claim the title against Uzbekistan, Oman and Palestine.
At the 2014 ASIAD in South Korea, Việt Nam, coached by Japan’s Toshiya Miura, made it through to the knockout stages where they were beaten by the UAE.
Leading Pakistan is Jose Antonio Nogueira, a coach with more than 20 years of experience working in Brazil and Asian clubs including Nagoya Grampus Eight of Japan and Al-Ahli Saudi of Saudi Arabia.
Nogueira said he knew Việt Nam had a very strong squad with most players having won silver medals at the AFC U23 Championship in China in January.
“Việt Nam are our arch rivals in Group D. It’s clear we’ll have a difficult match,” said Nogueira.
According to Nogueira, Pakistan’s aim is to gain experience and skills for their young footballers at the tournament.
As allowed, Pakistan have named three players aged 23 plus including midfielder Saddam Hussain who plays in Europe.
Nogueira said his team was eager to meet Việt Nam and mark their return to football.
To prepare for the event, Pakistan held a two-week training camp in Bahrain where they recorded a draw and a loss against two of the country’s top clubs.
Following the game against Pakistan, Việt Nam will take on Nepal on August 16 and then Japan on August 19.
The men’s football will finish on September 1. It will feature 26 teams in two groups of five and four groups of four. The top two teams from each group and the four best third-place teams will advance to the second round. — VNS