SEA Games football final: Park calls Thailand approach 'perfect'

By Nhat Tao   May 21, 2022 | 01:38 am PT
SEA Games football final: Park calls Thailand approach 'perfect'
Coach Park Hang-seo at a press meet before the SEA Games men's football final between Vietnam and Thailand at Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium, May 21, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu
Coach Park Hang-seo said Thailand have a "perfect" playstyle and would be a tough opponent in the SEA Games men's football final against Vietnam on Sunday.

"Thailand are tough to beat. In the last five games, they scored 15 goals and only let their opponents score twice. And that's after they got the red card in their match with Malaysia. So, it's not possible to have an exact estimate on their defensive capabilities," Park told a Saturday press meet.

"Their playstyle is truly perfect. Each team, of course, have their own strengths and weaknesses. The midline of Thailand's offense is very good, with many strong, quick and skillful players. Vietnamese players would need to cover each other and defend well."

Despite having entered the final without letting their opponents score even a single goal, Vietnam are still facing criticism, especially regarding their offensive lineup.

"We're only a match away from the gold medal. Fans hold high expectations, and that puts pressure on players. But in my opinion, they should learn to rise above that," said Park, adding that the team would prepare their best for the game.

Vietnam and Thailand will face each other in the SEA Games final for the first time in 18 years at Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium on Sunday. In the last four SEA Games finals, Vietnam lost all, which surprised Park.

However, he affirmed that the past has nothing to do with the present.

"I wasn't Vietnam's coach at the time, and our current players are all different," he said, adding that people should let go of the past to focus on the present and future.

For Park personally, the upcoming game would be a special one. Park and his team had won against Indonesia in the SEA Games final in 2019. But after the match against Thailand, he would no longer coach the U23 team, and would focus his attention on the national team instead.

"Over two years ago in the Philippines, I participated in the SEA Games for the first time. My biggest goal was to win Vietnam their first gold medal in 60 years. I faced a lot of pressure back then. Luckily, my players fought well, and we achieved our goal. This time on our home field, the team have many advantages, but so much pressure. As the head coach, I feel that too."

Regarding Thailand's coach Mano Polking, Park said he knew he has much experience working with Thailand, having also once led the HCMC FC in V-League.

"More than anyone else, Polking knows the strengths and weaknesses of Thai players, and know some Vietnamese players. We once faced each other in AFF Cup 2020, so I think Thailand would play similarly in the incoming match. We've had our preparations. In general, I believe Polking is a good coach."

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