|Coach Park Hang-seo said Việt Nam will focus on the World Cup qualifiers. — Photo danviet.vn|
HÀ NỘI — Coach Park Hang-seo has said his top priority next year will be the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
The South Korean coach was speaking to media on Tuesday at the U22 Việt Nam team's training camp to prepare for the 31st SEA Games to be held in Việt Nam next year.
The senior team was originally also meant to be preparing for the match against Malaysia in the second qualifying round of World Cup 2022. However, this match was pushed to 2021 after FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation agreed to postpone the second qualifying round matches to next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Park, it's early to be thinking about the SEA Games, but because the senior team's matches were postponed, he summoned 48 players for the U22 team to evaluate their quality.
“In the V.League 1 the U22 players are played very little and it's the same in the lower tournaments. So I selected 48 players to test their abilities and evaluate their adaptability,” said Park.
Park said he didn’t select defender Đoàn Văn Hậu, although Hậu is still young enough to play for the U22s, as the player has proven his prowess.
“He just came back from abroad, so he needs time with his family as well as adjusting to life and working with his club. I told Hậu it's okay to not convene,” said Park.
Next year, Park and his teams will face a dense schedule. In addition to the AFF Cup 2020 (scheduled for April), Việt Nam will play the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers, the World Cup qualifiers and the 31st SEA Games.
The coach said the team will need a solid plan and he said he hopes the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) and the Việt Nam Professional Football Joint Stock Company (VPF) come up with a reasonable V.League 1 schedule to facilitate the national teams.
He emphasised that he would prioritise the second qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup.
“At present, I'm in charge of two teams. There are four upcoming important tournaments. But the first priority will be three matches in the World Cup 2022’s qualifying round.
"We have not entered the final qualifier so we will have to try. Việt Nam are at the top of the table, so they need more effort. At the AFF Cup, Việt Nam are the defending champions, so we have to keep it and at the SEA Games we also have to play as a champion.
"We also have to try to enter the AFC U23 Championship finals. Every tournament needs the best and the best effort," said Park.
According to Park, the local domestic league being postponed has made evaluating his players a challenge and if local football doesn't return this year, the national team will have to be the focus immediately.
He added that Vietnamese players need to improve their fitness, as on average, players in other countries run 10km, while most Vietnamese players can only run 9km in a match.
“The average distance of high-speed running at world level is about 500m but for my players, it's only about 300m, which limits the ability to penetrate the opponent's penalty area,” said Park.
“Another problem is the mentality, we have won the AFF Cup and the SEA Games, so the players' desire has decreased. I will have to overcome it by bringing in new players to compete with the old players,” Park added. — VNS