Midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải of Hà Nội FC volleys a ball during the match against Altyn Asyr during their AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final match last week. They will play the return game today in Ashgabat City. Photo the-afc.com
HÀ NỘI — Coach Chu Đình Nghiêm knows his Hà Nội side represent the entire nation as they take on Altyn Asyr in the AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final second leg on Tuesday.
The Vietnamese champions spent more than 20 hours travelling to Ashgabat City, Turkmenistan, on Sunday for the second leg.
All they need is a draw to advance to the final after their 3-2 win in the first leg in Hà Nội last Tuesday.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference Nghiêm said: "We have the advantage after winning the first leg. It is just a small gap but it makes us more confident for the coming game.
"We have big desire in the tournament and want to go as far as possible. If we could make it, it would be a strong push for not only us but also other Vietnamese clubs who would pay more attention to the continent-level competitions," he said.
Nghiêm's side are significantly healthier than a week earlier, with key players ready to return from injury.
"(National team midfielder) Đức Huy 100 per cent will not play. My captain Nguyễn Văn Quyết is at about 70-80 per cent of fitness and my trio Moses, Kebe and Omar are ready to compete.
"Of course we have not reached our peak yet due to the long travel but Hà Nội will do our best. We won't play for the draw but play a kind of beautiful football. We have fixed our mistakes from the previous match and will do a better job."
The first leg was considered Hà Nội’s best performance of the campaign, which skipper Quyết, who netted one of the three goals, said showed they had taken their game to a new level.
If they advance, the team would be first ASEAN representatives to win an inter-zone match since the introduction of the competition’s current format in 2017.
Nghiêm was careful when talking about the hosts who are bigger and stronger than the Vietnamese side.
"They are different when at home. They are really enthusiastic and play with great effort in front of their local supporters."
Coach Yazguly Hojageldiyevr of Altyn Asyr said despite conceding losing in Việt Nam, scoring two away goals was a positive for his side.
He said his focus was on midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải who scored a brace in the first leg. He said Hải was playing at a high level and his players must pay more attention to him.
The match will kick off at 7pm Hà Nội time at the Kopetdag Stadium and will be live aired on Fox Sports.
The winners will advance to the inter-zone final and meet the winners of the match between Abahani Limited Dhaka of Bangladesh and April 25 Sports Club of North Korea. VNS