Vietnamese coach wants to avoid early match with 5-time champion Thailand at AFF

By Lam Thoa   October 20, 2018 | 04:03 am PT
Vietnamese coach wants to avoid early match with 5-time champion Thailand at AFF
Coach Park Hang-seo wants Vietnam to top group A at AFF Champion football tournament. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Coach Park Hang-seo’s current targets: AFF Championship semifinals and past the group stage at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

The head coach of the Vietnamese men’s football team is in Paju City, South Korea, with the 30 players he shortlisted for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship next month.

Park Hang-seo said the national football team’s goal right now is to be the top team in its group to secure a spot in the semifinal.

This way, Vietnam will avoid an early confrontation with Thailand, the most successful team at the championship who were crowned winners for five times including the latest editions in 2014 and 2016.

This year, Vietnam is in Group A with Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar.

Thailand is in Group B with Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Timor-Leste.

“I will try to help Vietnam win the championship after 10 years of waiting. I understand that Vietnam has high hopes for the AFF Cup,” he said.

He told Korean media that the Vietnamese media have rated Thailand as the best candidate for the championship.

To avoid an early confrontation, he said, Vietnam would need be the top team in their group and secure a semifinal spot.

In an earlier interview with VnExpress, Park had said: “The AFF championship will be a tough challenge. Although we have played well in the AFC U23 Championship and the Asian Games (Asiad) this year, it will be very different because this is at the national team level.”

The AFF Championship will be held from November 8 to December 15, with the participation of 10 teams from Southeast Asia. National broadcaster Vietnam Television has successfully clinched a deal with Lagardere Sports, the official sponsor of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, to broadcast the tournament’s matches in the country.

Vietnam will play its first match against Laos on November 8.

About one month after the AFF Championship, the national team will head to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, where it is in Group D with Iran, Iraq, and Yemen.

“Vietnam is on par with Iran and Iraq. So I want the team to at least win third place and pass the stage matches,” he said.

On the possibility of Vietnam going against his home country, South Korea, Park Hang-seo said: “Our goal is to pass the group stage. I have not thought about having to face South Korea yet."

At the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, South Korea is in Group C with China, Kyrgyzstan, and the Philippines.

In August, South Korea defeated Vietnam 3-1 at the Asiad 2018.

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