Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Park Hang-seo is hoping to lead Việt Nam to the top of their group of the upcoming Southeast Asian Football Federation Championship, the AFF Suzuki Cup, which will be held in a new format early next month.
At a press briefing on October 15 in Hà Nội, the South Korean coach said his team must finish top of group A.
"I have selected the 30 best players for this tournament. For some reasons, some of them could not join their teammates in time. As result, I don’t have much time (about one month) to prepare well for the cup. However, we still aim at the top spot," said Park through an interpreter.
In the coming tournament, Park will not have one of his best players as defender Vũ Văn Thanh has been sidelined due to injury.
Thanh played outstandingly in this year’s Asian U23 championship and the Asian Games as Việt Nam unexpectedly finished second and fourth, respectively.
"I regret that he could not make this competition. He is an important player and I have not found any substitute who could fill his place," he said, adding that he trusted his players who have experience in international tournament and the domestic league.
Another difficulty he noted was the lack of information about his opponents.
Việt Nam are in same group as Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Malaysia. With the new format, teams will play each team home and away. The two best teams of each group will advance to the semi-finals. Việt Nam’s first match is against Laos on November 8 in Vientiane.
"I have almost no idea about them. I just flew to Malaysia to see each of their local league and knew that they have naturalised players in their national team. My assistant will watch and take note more of their friendly against Kyrgyzstan on October 16. On the other teams, the VFF gave me clips of their previous matches," he said.
Park and his players on October 16 depart for South Korea for a short training camp where they will have three friendly matches with local clubs.
The first match is against K League side Incheon United on October 22. The second match three days later they will be versus Seoul FC, also a team in the top league of South Korea. K League 2 team Seoul E Land FC will host them on October 29.
Park said the camp in South Korea was necessary for his team and he hoped to perfect their technique and tactics and find a player to replace Thanh.
"We have not at our best at present but I believe that in South Korea, things will be solved especially the organisation and unity of the team. And Việt Nam will be 100 per cent ready for the first match against Laos," he said.
"We will then work on each match and look towards victories. Through the U23 championship and Asian Games, we received great expectation from our fans and we have a responsibility to meet their demands," he said.
Speaking at the briefing, captain Nguyễn Văn Quyết expressed confidence for the tournament.
"It will be my fourth AFF Cup. I feel pressure in all tournaments including this one. But we hope to play well as remarkable results at recent events are a strong drive. We hope to continue that success," said Quyết, the most experienced player on the team.
Việt Nam have won the tournament once, defeating Thailand in 2008. — VNS