Việt Nam's U19 players train in HCM City for the Asian championship qualification. — Photo thethao247.com.vn
HÀ NỘI — Coach Philippe Troussier of Việt Nam is aiming for top spot in Group J of the Asian Football Confederation U19 Championship qualification which will start today in HCM City.
As hosts, Việt Nam will play Mongolia in the opening match tonight, then Guam on Friday and powerhouse Japan on Sunday.
The team with the most points will advance to the finals in Uzbekistan next year, while the four best second-placed teams from the 11 groups will also grab a spot.
At the press conference on Tuesday, Frenchman Troussier said the Vietnamese team had gathered the best players and were balanced between attacking and defending.
He said as the hosts there was of course pressure to play well but it would also encourage the team.
Troussier said he respected all three rivals, and though he didn't have much information about Mongolia and Guam, he believed Japan would be the strongest.
He said though people may think it was difficult to beat Japan, Vietnamese people had overcome many tougher challenges.
Coach Kageyama Masanaga of Japan said he had gathered some information on Việt Nam, including that the head coach managed the Japanese national team to Asian Cup glory in 2000 and to the last 16 of the 2002 World Cup.
He said Troussier was a quality coach and Việt Nam under the Frenchman would be formidable. He added he felt fortunate to be able to watch Việt Nam twice before facing them.
Mongolian manager Bozik Rastilav said as the event was his team's second official international tournament, they would focus on playing fairly without any planning. He said his players were young and they came for experience.
The Asian qualifiers will see teams competing in 11 groups with 11 top teams and four best second-placed squad will join the hosts in the finals on October 14-31 next year.
The top four teams of the tournament will qualify for the 2021 FIFA U20 World Cup in Indonesia as AFC representatives.
Việt Nam's best result at the event was a semi-final berth in 2016 where they lost 3-0 to Japan. They made history as the first ever Vietnamese team to win a slot at the World Cup level. — VNS