Vietnam coach happy to be underdogs against Iraq: Troussier

By Lam Thoa   November 20, 2023 | 01:29 am PT
Vietnam coach happy to be underdogs against Iraq: Troussier
Vietnam head coach Philippe Troussier during a press conference in Hanoi on Nov. 20, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Coach Philippe Troussier said that with the underdog mentality and home-field advantage, Vietnam can create a surprise against Iraq in the World Cup second qualifying round on Tuesday.

"Each match is always different, depending on the opponent. Each opponent has a different playing style and my goal is to adjust to make it challenging for them," coach Troussier said at a press conference in Hanoi on Monday.

"We are prepared. We will try our best to achieve good results. With home advantage, Vietnam will have the support of the fans. We will not only play with 11 players but also with 30,000-40,000 fans and make the opponent feel the pressure. Hopefully, we will get a good result."

Vietnam started the 2026 World Cup second round qualifying campaign well with a 2-0 victory against the Philippines on Nov. 16. However, Iraq will be a much bigger challenge as they are considered the top contender to win Group F.

Iraq crushed Indonesia 5-1 in the first match. They are currently 68th on FIFA ranking, 26 places above Vietnam.

However, that does not discourage coach Troussier.

"I faced Iraq many times when I was coaching Qatar. They are now in the top five of Asia," he said.

"Theoretically, Iraq are rated higher. They have many experienced players who play in Europe. They also won the Asian Cup before. I know many people think Vietnam are weaker and we are likely to lose. But that’s good, my players will enter the game with nothing to lose and the desire to prove everyone wrong."

In the match with Philippines, coach Troussier left a series of key players such as center-back Que Ngoc Hai, midfielder Nguyen Hoang Duc and Do Hung Dung on the bench.

The French coach used six U23 players: Vo Minh Trong, Nguyen Thai Son, Phan Tuan Tai, Nguyen Van Tung, Nguyen Dinh Bac and Ho Van Cuong.

However, the team still played confidently. Nguyen Van Toan opened the scoring before Vietnam sealed a 2-0 victory with a long-range shot from young talent Nguyen Dinh Bac in the very last minute.

"I don’t choose players based on their names and what they have achieved in the past. My criteria are based on their skills and ability to contribute to each match," Troussier said.

"In every match, there will be players who don’t get to play or even registered and that is normal."

The match between Vietnam and Iraq will take place at 7 p.m. (Hanoi time) on Tuesday at My Dinh National Stadium. It will be reported live on VnExpress International.

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