V. League club coach Kiatisuk promises spirited clash against Japanese opponents

By Duc Dong   April 15, 2022 | 06:24 am PT
V. League club coach Kiatisuk promises spirited clash against Japanese opponents
Head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang of HAGL (R) and a member organizer of AFC at a press conference in HCMC, April 15, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
HAGL coach Kiatisuk Senamuang acknowledges his team has "offense issues" but says the long lines of fans will motivate a spirited clash against more fancied opponents from Japan.

Speaking at a Friday press meet before the AFC Champions League match between HAGL and Yokohama Marinos on Saturday evening, Kiatisuk said: "I was touched on seeing the long lines of fans queuing up to purchase tickets to see HAGL's match. That is the motivation for us to enter the tournament in the best possible way."

The coach of the Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) club was candid: "We will compete with the utmost spirit and give our best shot. Let us see how HAGL perform tomorrow."

He also admitted that HAGL did not play well during the last edition of V-League. However, the Vietnamese league and a regional tournament are two different arenas and "the tactics will also be different," he said.

Despite having problems in the offensive line, coach Kiatisuk said HAGL will try to attack the rival's net since "we won't be able to win if we only play defensively."

"So we will try to have high possession and show our best," he said.

HAGL have registered 31 players for the tournament. "This is a good opportunity for young players. I hope they will make the most of it," Kiatisuk said.

In the 2022 V-League, HAGL have played four matches, drawing three and losing one to rank ninth out of 13 teams.

Their rival are one of the most successful teams in Japan, with three championships and two runners-up J-League 1 titles. Under head coach Kevin Muscat, Yokohama Marinos finished as runner-up last season and were voted as the club with the best playing style. They scored the highest number of goals in the tournament, 82.

They are in second place this season, too, scoring 17 goals in the first 10 matches.

Head coach Kevin Muscat talks to media at a press conference in HCMC on April 15, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

Coach Kevin Muscat of Yokohama Marinos talks to media at a press conference in HCMC on April 15, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

Coach Muscat said at the same press conference that HAGL's playing style was very unpredictable and the club have many players currently in the Vietnamese national football team.

"HAGL have a lot of good players. Their players play vital roles and contribute greatly to their national team's offense line. As a result, they will surely be tough opponents for Yokohama."

There were no Yokohama players in the Japan squad that drew 1-1 with Vietnam in the final round of the third qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup - Asia region on March 29.

HAGL contributed three strikers in that match.

"So we have examined their gameplay videos. Because football is a team sport, we concentrate on resolving the football style rather than HAGL's individual abilities," Muscat said.

Under coach Kiatisuk, HAGL qualified for the AFC Champions League (ACL) in 2004 and 2005. However the team failed to make it through the group stage. No Vietnamese club have passed the group stage in ACL history.

Yokohama have also participated in ACL three times and failed to make it past the group stage.

The Japanese team arrived in HCMC early this week with 66 members, 30 of whom are players.

Due to Covid-19, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chose HCMC's Thong Nhat Stadium as the centralized venue for all group H matches. The games will take place from April 16 to May 2.

Other clubs in group H are South Korean champions Jeonbuk Huyndai and Australian club Sydney FC.

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