Vietnamese players training for their AFF Cup semi-final clash with Thailand on December 23. — Photo courtesy of VFF
HÀ NỘI — Coach Park Hang-seo is confident Việt Nam will beat Thailand in the AFF Cup semi-finals’ first leg match, providing his players fulfil their potential.
The South Korea coach and defender Đỗ Duy Mạnh took part in an online press briefing yesterday in Singapore.
Mạnh said the experience gained at the World Cup third qualification was great and would help in the regional AFF Cup. Việt Nam set this stage as a target to reach before the tournament.
“We all know that Thailand are title favourites this year. They have quality players, are always a strong team and they are trophy contenders in all regional tournaments,” said Park.
“However, I do not find anything about Thailand particularly special, although I can’t deny their power. I always respect them,” he said.
“On our side, we have done our best. We might not satisfy all supporters but we have worked hard. We can win this match.”
Việt Nam advanced to the last four as Group B’s second-placed team with 10 points, scoring nine goals and conceding none.
Thailand topped Group A, winning all four matches with 12 points.
While Việt Nam are the defending champions, Thailand have won the tournament five times; the most titles of any team in the region.
Việt Nam will have one day less to rest than Thailand, but only have one injury concern – defender Trần Đình Trọng suffered an ankle injury last week.
Park has had a remarkable record against Thailand in both a national and the U23 level competitions.
Việt Nam beat Thailand 1-0 at the 2019 King’s Cup’s semi-finals and drew 0-0 twice in the 2022 World Cup second qualification round in 2019. Việt Nam’s U23 team beat Thailand 4-0 at the Asian U23 championship qualifier and drew 2-2 in the 30th SEA Games’ group round, also in 2019.
But Park does not care much about the past results.
“The previous scores do not impact the coming game. To us, every match is a challenge and we have to do our best to win. No one knows what the result will be but we have prepared as best we can. We will find a way to score,” said Park.
Asked about Thailand’s Head Coach Alexandre Polking, who worked in Việt Nam before moving to Thailand, the 64-year-old said he did not worry about Polking’s understandings of Việt Nam football and players.
“In short, nothing to worry about at all. Polking coached HCM City FC and knows Vietnamese players. But we played Thailand many times and understand them too. We are not strangers to each other,” he said, adding that under the German-Brazilian coach, Thai players are asked to move more.
Coach Park Hang-seo takes part in training with his players. —Photo courtesy of VFF
On the Thai side, Polking said Việt Nam, as the reigning champions, will suffer from the pressure of expectation.
He said it would be a special match as both two teams are strong, are playing well this year and are expected to win. The teams are excited to play as they have not met in the last three semi-finals of the cup.
The Thai players are training hard for their best performance, in both a physical and technical sense. They are ready and confident they will win.
Polking does not think that his short time in Việt Nam is an advantage, but he knows Việt Nam have a good coach and players that have been playing together for a long time.
However, the more Thailand play the more they have improved, and the more they understand their tactical responsibilities. It is the reason why Polking, who has been in Thailand for only three months, believes that his team will have a good game.
The Thai coaching team spent a lot of time video-analysing their Vietnamese opponents, spying both strong points and weaknesses.
Thailand will keep the ball as much as possible and try to impose themselves on the match from the beginning, he said.
The match will be played at the Singapore National Stadium. It will be shown live on VTV6 from 7.30 pm. As usual, Việt Nam News be running a live blog so you don’t miss any of the action. —VNS