Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Coach Park Hang-seo said he’s feeling the pressure, but was confident his Việt Nam side would have a good game against the Philippines in the second leg of the AFF Cup semi-final tonight in Hà Nội.
The South Korean also hoped his team would try their best to avoid repeating past mistakes.
"I know many people are watching us from my home country as well as here in Việt Nam. I really appreciate their support which is also a small burden on me as a head coach. I just can promise to show the best performance tomorrow," said Park through an interpreter yesterday in a press briefing in Hà Nội.
He said to prepare for the match his team re-watched their 2-1 first leg victory to prepare for this crucial game.
"We missed several chances in that match. We have to fix that and players are asked to keep focused all the time," he said.
Playing at home was an advantage for Việt Nam, with a draw good enough to ensure their safe passage. However, they’ve been in this position before and faltered.
Việt Nam were in the same situation against Malaysia four years ago. They won 2-1 in Kuala Lumpur but lost 4-2 in Hà Nội, and had to watch the final from home.
"We played the first leg match very well but the team should remember and avoid what happened against Malaysia in 2014. We need to control ourselves and make sure that we do not repeat the same mistakes,” said Park.
When asked how he helped his players cope with the aggressive Filipino tackles in the previous game, Park said football was also a game of physique and teams had to accept that.
"They are physically stronger but my players are better in term of mental strength. I told them to carry out our tactics to resist theirs,” Park explained.
At the briefing striker Hà Đức Chinh said: "I have waited a lot to have my first time wearing the national jersey. I was on the bench four matches before having a chance in the first leg. I look forward to playing against them again."
Chinh, who wasted good opportunities in the first leg, added: "We have prepared as well as we could and the aim is to make the final."
If they avoid defeat, Việt Nam will lengthen their longest active unbeaten streak in international football.
The team have not been defeated in 13 matches. From December 7, 2016 up until now, they have seven draws and six wins under their belt.
Their last defeat was a 2-1 loss to Indonesia in the first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2016 semi-final on December 3.
Coach Park Hang-seo and striker Hà Đức Chinh take part in the AFF Cup briefing ahead of their semi-final match. -- VNS Photo Thanh Hà
On the visiting side, Philippine head coach Sven Goran Eriksson expressed his faith his side could succeed away from home.
"Unfortunately we lost the first leg match. It will be a tough game tomorrow but we are not here to be tourists,” said Eriksson.
“We will try our very best to change the score line. There are some small issues we need to work on but I feel confident that we can do well here," he said.
The coach, who took charge of the team in late October, said a win over Việt Nam under the pressure of more than 40,000 supporters would be a remarkable recognition for the Philippines and himself.
Philippine captain Phil Younghusband said his team was ready for the game.
He said the team knew that to do better in the return tie, the Philippines would have to up their game.
“We are looking forward to this game where we know it is difficult but that we are still very much in the game and we still have a chance for a place in the finals," added Youngusband.
The semi-final will kick off at 7.30pm Hà Nội time and will be live aired on different channels including VTV6 of Việt Nam and South Korean BSB.
Malaysia enters final
The winners will face Malaysia in the final to be played over two legs on December 11 and 15.
In a shock result last night, Malaysia managed to hold Thailand to a 2-2 draw at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, going through thanks to the away goal rule.
An Irfan Zakaria own goal gave the home side the lead on 21 minutes, but the visitors leveled seven minutes later through Syahmi Safari.
Just after the hour mark, Thailand took the lead again, through Pansa Hemviboon but Malaysia came back to equalise on 71 minutes through Norshahrul Idlan.
The visitors survived a late scare after Thailand blew the chance to win a place in the final with a stoppage time penalty, but the effort from the spot was blasted high over the bar. — VNS