Thailand have great desire to beat Vietnam at U23 Asian Cup: forward

By Lam Thoa   May 30, 2022 | 05:18 pm PT
Thailand have great desire to beat Vietnam at U23 Asian Cup: forward
Patrik Gustavsson speaks to VnExpress in Istanbul, Turkey, May 30, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Thai forward Patrik Gustavsson said Thailand, now stronger than they were in SEA Games 31, have what it takes to defeat Vietnam in the opening game of U23 Asian Cup.

After the defeat against host Vietnam in the 31st SEA Games men's football final on May 22, the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) and team manager Nualphan Lamsan determined to reform the U23 team. Only 10 players, including Gustavsson, from the SEA Games squad, were retained for U23 Asian Cup next month.

FAT called up 14 other players, including five who are currently playing for European clubs. They also handed over the U23 team to coach Worrawoot Srimaka, while Mano Polking, who coached Thailand at SEA Games, will focus on the national team.

"We didn't have a lot of time to prepare for the SEA Games. But after about three weeks of playing in the tournament together and another week of training in Bangkok, I think U23 Thailand are in fine form now," Gustavsson told VnExpress on Monday at Istanbul Airport, while waiting to transit to Uzbekistan for U23 Asian Cup.

At the 2022 U23 Asian Cup, Thailand are in group C with Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea.

Gustavsson said he is excited to meet two Southeast Asian rivals of Thailand again. At SEA Games 31, before losing 0-1 to Vietnam in the final, Thailand lost 1-2 to Malaysia in the opening match.

"We've been facing each other a lot lately, so it's familiar now," said the 21-year-old Thai striker of Swedish descent. "Losing to both Malaysia and Vietnam in the last SEA Games fills us with the desire to beat them and the upcoming U23 Asian Cup gives Thailand the opportunity to do that," he said.

Gustavsson is especially excited about the opening match against Vietnam on June 2. He said the defeat in the SEA Games final partly stemmed from the fact that Thailand had to play under too much pressure from more than 40,000 Vietnamese fans.

"Now is the time for us to settle this. Thailand have some new players and I think we are stronger than in the SEA Games," Gustavsson said.

Like Thailand, Vietnam have also changed a lot since the SEA Games victory, with many new players added and a new coach - Gong Oh-kyun.

Gustavsson believes that these changes would bring many new things to both teams, in terms of mentality, human and tactical factors.

"The only thing that remains after SEA Games is our desire to beat Vietnam," Gustavsson emphasized.

2022 U23 Asian Cup will be hosted from June 1 to 19 in Uzbekistan. Sixteen teams are divided into four groups. The top two of each group will qualify for the quarterfinals.

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