'Every coach in Southeast Asia wants to manage Vietnam': coach Polking

By Xuan Binh   March 28, 2024 | 05:36 am PT
'Every coach in Southeast Asia wants to manage Vietnam': coach Polking
Coach Mano Polking during the AFF Cup final between Thailand and Vietnam at Thammasat Stadium, Pathum Thani, Thailand, on Jan. 16, 2023. Thailand earned a 1-0 victory to claim the title. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Former Thailand national coach Mano Polking insinuated that he would happily replace the released Philippe Troussier as Vietnam's national football team manager because he believes in the squad's renowned potential.

"I watched every match of Vietnam recently, and I believe that the team still have a strong group of players," Polking told VnExpress on Wednesday evening.

"The U23 players are also nice and this is good for the future. But I will not comment on a famous coach like Troussier, because of course he understands football."

Polking, 48, has German parents, was born in Brazil and played as a winger for German, Greek and Cypriot clubs from 2001 to 2007.

He started coaching U23 Thailand in 2012 and managed Thai clubs before helming Ho Chi Minh City FC from 2020 to 2021.

Polking was then Thailand's national head coach from 2021 to 2023, winning two Asian Football Federation (AFF) Cup titles with the team. He was sacked in November 2023 and is still free at the moment.

"I’m looking for a new job and negotiating with several clubs," Polking said.

"But of course every coach in Southeast Asia wants to manage Vietnam," he told the press.

"I'm willing to work anywhere, but clearly working for a national team is the most honored position for any coach."

Polking’s style is attack football, favoring possession play with a 4-3-3 formation.

This traditionally aggressive style differs from the usual formation used by Vietnam’s former national team coach Park Hang-seo, as well as the squad’s recent gaffer Philippe Troussier, who favors a strong back line of three defenders.

All eyes are on Polking’s candidacy after Troussier’s recent sacking.

"I will need a lot of time to work with the players. I want the team to play offensively and take risks. But everything depends on opponents and the cards that I have in my hand," Polking said.

Polking's assistant Luis Viegas also wants to work for Vietnam with his partner if chosen.

"We would be very honored to coach the Vietnam national team," Viegas said. "If that happens, we will try our best to make Vietnamese fans happy."

If selected by the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF), Polking will become the first coach to have managed both the Thailand and Vietnam national teams, two arch rivals in Southeast Asia.

Polking could also become the first coach to win the AFF Cup three times in a row.

"I really like this challenge and it would be great if I can achieve it."

VFF is looking for a new coach, after terminating its contract with Troussier on Tuesday night, a few hours after Vietnam lost 0-3 to Indonesia in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

It has chosen domestic coach Hoang Anh Tuan to manage the U23 team for the upcoming U23 Asian Cup.

In an interview with VnExpress, VFF Vice President Tran Anh Tu said that the criteria for selecting a new coach are "culture, criticism-tolerance and acceptance of differences."

Vietnam have almost lost hope of entering the third qualifying round of the 2026 World Cup, but their sights are now set on the AFF Cup taking place in November.

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