Vietnam ready for World Cup qualifiers: coach Troussier

By Quang Huy   November 15, 2023 | 03:28 am PT
Vietnam ready for World Cup qualifiers: coach Troussier
Coach Philippe Troussier speaks at the press conference on Nov. 15, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong
Head coach Philippe Troussier believed that after eight months of preparation, Vietnam are ready for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

"The game with Philippines is not just an opener for the World Cup qualifiers campaign. It’s a also the result of eight months of completing and building the squad. The preparation is done. After the training sessions and six friendlies, I believe the team are ready.

"We are really excited despite knowing that it’s going to be a tough game tomorrow. We will give our best," Troussier said in a press conference on Wednesday.

After becoming Vietnam head coach in March, Troussier has called up a total of 80 players to the national team for training and playing in six friendlies. However, the performances did not meet the expectations of fans.

In June, Vietnam won three exhibition matches against Hong Kong, Syria and Palestine. During the October training period, Vietnam were defeated by strong teams like China, Uzbekistan and South Korea. These results put Troussier under great presssure.

"Pressure is necessary and we have gotten used to it in the past eight months," Troussier said. "The coaching staff let players get acquainted to the pressure on the field as well as during daily activities. Aside from winning, we also set the goal to play the way we want and perfect the squad in that philosophy.

"Since I took over the team, I have always been intense in every training session and every friendly. But pressure is a common thing in sports. Philippines also experience that. The important thing is that we give maximum effort to achieve the desired result."

Under coach Troussier, Vietnam switched from counter-attacking football to possession play. To implement this playing style, the French coach put his trust in the combination of young players and experienced ones. The game with a regional opponent like the Philippines is a test of power for the new Vietnam team. This is also Troussier’s first official match as Vietnam's head coach.

"At the moment, both teams have changed head coaches. Tournaments like World Cup qualifiers always contain surprises. The weaker teams always enter the game with a nothing-to-lose mentality. This game can not be predicted based on results of the past encounters," Troussier said.

To prepare for this match, the team went to Manila on Monday and had three training sessions to get used to the artificial grass pitch of Rizal Memorial Stadium. According to Troussier, playing on artificial grass can affect the outcome of the match, so the coaching staff must evaluate the player's ball control ability on this pitch and make adjustments.

The 67-year-old French coach acted as a strategic adviser and then technical director at the Promotion Fund of Vietnamese Football Talent Academy Football Talent (PVF) in 2018.

One year later, he was appointed head coach of U19, who he helped qualify for the U19 AFC Championship 2020, which was later canceled due to Covid-19. Troussier left after his contract with VFF expired in June 2021.

Dubbed the "White Witch Doctor" for his successful stint in Africa, Troussier has managed Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa, and Burkina Faso. His international career peaked during his time in Japan (1998-2002) when his team won the AFC Asian Cup 2000.

After the Philippines game, he and his squad will return to Hanoi to prepare for the home game against Iraq at My Dinh National Stadium on Nov. 21.

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