Việt Nam eye Asian Cup knock-out round

January 05, 2019 - 09:00

Despite acknowledging the challenge of the upcoming Asian Cup, Việt Nam are confidently targeting a berth in the knockout round.

The Việt Nam team trains ahead of the start of Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates next week. — Photo courtesy of Việt Nam Football Federation
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Despite acknowledging the challenge of the upcoming Asian Cup, Việt Nam are confidently targeting a berth in the knockout round.

Việt Nam are in Group D with Iran, Iraq and Yemen. The tournament will begin on January 7 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The squad will open their campaign against Iraq a day later at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. They will face a powerful Iran side on January 12 before taking on debutants Yemen on January 16.

“After winning the AFF Suzuki Cup, the fans’ expectations are high at the Asian Cup,” Việt Nam coach Park Hang-seo told Iran’s Tasnim News Agency. “The first goal of the Vietnamese team is to qualify for the next round.”

“To advance to the Round of 16, you have to earn at least four points,” the South Korean manager said. “It’s very difficult to beat Iran but we will progress if we can overcome Yemen and Iraq.”

Park, who took the Việt Nam job just 14 months ago but has already captured second at the Asian U23 Championship and won the AFF Cup, has good reason to be confident. His team may represent the country’s best-ever footballing generation. It has gained the attention of both domestic and international media.

Among the 24 players that Park has brought to the UAE, some were named as players to watch.

Most notable is midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải, who just won the most valuable player award at the AFF Cup. The 21-year-old also starred in Việt Nam’s stunning run with the youth team in the Asian U23 tournament last January.

The talented player could do good job as an attacking centre midfielder. He is a player with "impeccable technique, a bag full of tricks, blistering pace and a keen eye for goal, especially from long-range and dead-ball situations," according to Fox Sports Asia.

The playmaker has incisive ability to read the match and always appears in right spot to produce a moment of brilliance.

His teammate Quế Ngọc Hải has been transformed from a hot-headed defender into a confident and smart captain under Park, who used to called Hải ’crazy’ after watching him compete in the V.League.

Hải gradually won the trust of his coach and teammates, maturing in both ability and temperament before taking the captaincy from Nguyễn Văn Quyết. His versatility and skills made him a reliable presence in the backline. Along with his teammates, Hải’s steady defence played a big part in Việt Nam’s recent success.

Goalkeeper Đặng Văn Lâm is also a highlight of the team. The tallest man on the team was no doubt a hero guarding Việt Nam’s goal throughout the AFF Cup. Born and trained in Russia, the 25-year-old headed to Việt Nam and found himself in the national team after working hard in the V.League. Fox Sports Asia said he "has provided the Golden Dragons with an authoritative presence between the sticks and, while not one to try anything fancy, Lâm does the basics well and will get an even bigger stage to shine on at the Asian Cup." — VNS