Coach Pak Hang So (right) and his players at a training session January 30 in Hanoi. Vietnam will play China on February 1st. Photo from VFF website
HANOI — Both Vietnam and China coaches hope to welcome the New Year with a win when the two sides meet in Hanoi on Tuesday evening.
On the first day of the lunar year, coaches Park Han Seo and Li Xiaopeng want to start the Year of the Tiger with a roar and win this World Cup qualifier.
While losing to Australia in the last match, Vietnam’s seventh consecutive loss, means qualifying for Qatar is out of the question, there’s a lot of regional pride at stake when the two sides meet at the Mujin Stadium.
At the pre-match briefing, coach Park apologized to the Vietnamese fans for the 4-0 loss to the Socceroos.
“We disappointed the Vietnamese. As the head coach, I apologize for this defeat,” said coach Park.
“I know that Vietnam has been striving for the third World Cup qualification for 60 years.
“This is a completely strange competition for us, which attracts all the strong teams in Asia. These are the reasons why Vietnam did not have good results. It is difficult to be successful the first time you participate. We are in for a difficult period.
“Tomorrow we will play with China, it will be a special match. The Vietnamese are especially worried because it is the first day of the Lunar New Year. They expect a positive result from China. My players and I have prepared thoroughly for this match and we are determined to win.”
Park suffered seven losses in a row, the worst record in over four years in charge. Australia’s defeat pushed Vietnam out of the top 100 in the world.
Also speaking at the briefing, midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai said Vietnam would be looking to win to cheer local fans on the first day of the Lunar New Year. He hoped that people would stay close to the team and support it throughout the match.
When asked about the Chinese team, Coach Park said, “China had the best preparation for the tournament of any Asian team. Chinese clubs are continental forces. The players have a pretty good physique. They play well, flank, using players with good speed. “
The South Korean did not want to talk about the weaknesses of China.
Pak called out Bui Hoang defender Viet Anh after his former skipper Kuo Ngoc Hai and defender Liu Quang Vinh tested positive for COVID-19. At the same time, midfielder Tran Phi San was sidelined with a torn ligament in training two days ago.
Striker Nguyen Tien Linh returned to action after missing the Australian game on January 27 after testing positive for COVID-19.
Strikers Nguyen Tien Lin and Nguyen Van Toan will also return, having missed the Australian match due to the pandemic.
China’s coach Li praised the Vietnamese team but insisted he would take home three points.
“I hope that tomorrow my players will have a good match. It is for our fans at Lunar New Near,” said Lee, who took over the team in early December.
“I commend all the Vietnamese players who show their great spirit in the competition. They will also get strong support from local fans in this match at Mỹ Đình.
“My players are doing well. I hope they show their best side. All matches are important for us, but in this replay against Vietnam, the result is not as important as the performance of my players.
“I believe that the two teams will bring a beautiful game to the fans of the two countries. China is confident before the collision and will strive to win.
Chinese striker Luo Guofu regretted not playing in the first leg but said he would play tomorrow.
“I don’t care how many minutes I play in this important match, but I will compete with everything I can,” said Luo, the original Brazilian player.
China defeated Vietnam 3-2 in the first match last October.
Tomorrow the match will start at 19:00 at Mỹ Đình National Stadium and will be broadcast live on VTV6.
Vietnam News will maintain a live blog to update all the activities of these two rivals on our site. — VNS