AFC Cup: Vietnamese club aim to get past group stage

By Duc Dong   June 23, 2022 | 05:30 am PT
AFC Cup: Vietnamese club aim to get past group stage
Coach Bae Ji-won at an AFC Cup press conference on June 23, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
Coach Bae Ji-won wants to get Viettel FC past the group stage of AFC Cup this year, giving the club a shot in the arm ahead of the V. League.

"We have prepared well for this tournament. First, we'll try to get past the group stage and take it from there. If we can achieve our goal, Viettel will carry the spirit to the V. League and aim at other targets," Bae said at a press conference on Thursday.

Viettel, in group I, will play Young Elephants (Laos), Phnom Penh Crown (Cambodia) and Hougang United (Singapore) in June 24-30 matches.

The Hanoi-based club are to make their AFC Cup debut, after competing in the 2021 AFC Champions League.

Coach Bae was as a fitness assistant in the Vietnam national team under coach Park Hang-seo.

After winning the 2018 AFF Cup with the team, he went to work in Malaysia and Hong Kong. From 2019 to 2021, Bae worked as a fitness coach for Kitchee, the most successful club in the Hong Kong Premier League. In January 2022, the South Korean coach signed a two-year deal with Viettel.

"I’m not under any pressure when coaching Viettel. I have had time to work with Viettel players inside and outside the pitch. Therefore, I’m comfortable taking part in the AFC Cup with the players and believe that the team will obtain good results," he said.

Viettel will miss center-back Bui Tien Dung due to injury, but Bae said he was not too worried about the squad.

"Tien Dung's injury is complicated and he will take time to recover. But we have many good players to fill in. I have a specific plan and believe that the team will do a good job," Bae said.

The South Korean coach also said he will give opportunities to many young players in this tournament, including U23 defender Nguyen Thanh Binh.

"Not just Thanh Binh, other players are also ready to play. I want to create many opportunities for the players to experience a continental tournament," he said.

Viettel will play their opening match against Young Elephants. Bae said he didn’t know much about the opponent, but remained confident of good results.

"I'm not sure that the team will win easily. The important thing is that we need to focus on what we do best."

Viettel will play their next V. League match on July 4.

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