|Coach Mai Đức Chung and his players in training early this week. They are ready for the ASEAN Championship in Thailand on August 15-28. Photo courtesy of VFF|
HÀ NỘI Mai Đức Chung and his team yesterday left for Thailand for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship on August 15-28.
The side, who recently returned home after a 10-day training camp in Japan, have their sights set on silverware.
Việt Nam finished third at last year's event, which Thailand won by defeating U20 Australia 3-2 in the final.
Chung was happy with his players after five weeks training both at home and abroad, saying they faced quality teams in friendlies and improved remarkably.
“We have worked hard and prepared pretty well through our training, especially the 10 days in Japan,” Chung said.
The regional championship includes Việt Nam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesia in Group B, and Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, East Timor and the hosts in Group A.
They will compete in a round robin format in the group stage with the two best teams in each advancing to the semi-finals.
“ASEAN teams know each other by heart. Among them, Việt Nam, Thailand and Myanmar are the trio vying for top place. However we cannot look down on anyone,” Chung said.
“To beat them Việt Nam have to fight in each individual match to earn a berth in the last match and then win the final.”
Việt Nam, SEA Games champions, will play Cambodia in their first match on August 16.
“Cambodia have just set up their national women’s football team. They have not ever taken part in any competitions in the region like SEA Games and the AFF Championship. But we cannot underestimate them at all.”
The ASEAN Championship is an important warm-up for the team who will take part in the Southeast Asian Games in November and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifier later.
World Cup opportunity
The world football governing body FIFA has expanded the number of women's World Cup participants from 24 to 32 for the 2023 tournament.
As a top six team in Asia the move gives Việt Nam a golden opportunity to qualify for the first time in history.
Chung said the door was open but it was not easy to step through it.
“We really want to play at the World Cup. However to reach that level we must prepare really well ‘from top to toe’. We need good players, good facilities and need a long-term strategy for that. It is the only way to have positive result, otherwise we may suffer same situation with Thailand (losing 0-13 to the US) at the recent World Cup in France,” Chung said.
“Look at Japan, they spent 20 years to have such a good team.”
Chung also opened door for overseas Vietnamese players to join his team.
“I welcome them home to strengthen the national team which lacks quality and technical players. While the training activities of local clubs and the VFF are not enough, their return will be strong support for us,” he said.
Local media have reported that Vietnamese-American Lê Chelsea Liên, 19, and her younger sister Kyah Lê, 16, want to play for Việt Nam
Their match clips were sent to Ijiro Akira, Japanese coach of the U19 team and the Việt Nam Football Federation has agreed to trial them.
Liên is playing for Spokane Shadow in the American National Premier Soccer League.
Kyah took part a training course at the Elite Soccer Skills Academy and was in the top 11 best trainees.
Chung also said he contacted a Vietnamese-Chinese player but has not received a response. VNS