AFC U23 Championship: Confident Vietnam feel the heat ahead of UAE clash

By Lam Thoa   January 9, 2020 | 05:01 pm GMT+7
AFC U23 Championship: Confident Vietnam feel the heat ahead of UAE clash
Vietnam's coach Park Hang-seo speaks at a press conference head of their match against UAE at the 2020 AFC U23 Championship in Thailand, January 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
Head coach Park Hang-seo believes his players are ready for their first AFC U23 Championship match against UAE on Friday.

"The first game is always challenging and our opponent UAE is quite a strong team, so to me, this match will be a solid one. Of course, before a game like this, pressure is something my players cannot avoid. But, the important thing is showing what they are made of," Park said at a press conference on Thursday.

"The team is 100 percent physically and mentally ready for the game tomorrow," he said.

Vietnam and UAE are no strangers, having clashed thrice in the past two years. At Asian Games 2018, UAE beat Vietnam in the third-place play-off after a penalty shootout. The teams played a friendly in October that ended 1-1. On November 14, they went head to head in a World Cup 2022 qualification game at My Dinh National Stadium that Vietnam won 1-0 thanks to the only goal by Nguyen Tien Linh.

Their games have given the two sides a glimpse of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, though coach Park shows little concern.

"I know many things about UAE. We played a friendly in Ho Chi Minh City that I watched very carefully. UAE said they know us, but let’s wait till the game tomorrow," said a smiling Park.

While UAE strives for a place among the top three tournament teams and a ticket to Olympics Tokyo 2020, Park is modest about Vietnam’s goal.

"In this group, UAE, North Korea and Jordan are all strong teams. We will try our best to beat them in the group stage," the coach stressed.

UAE head coach Maciej Skorza said although he has analyzed Vietnam thoroughly, it will still be difficult to predict Park’s strategy.

UAE coach Maciej Skorza speaks at a press conference ahead of Vietnam clash at the 2020 AFC U23 Championship in Thailand, January 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.

UAE coach Maciej Skorza speaks at a press conference ahead of Vietnam clash at the 2020 AFC U23 Championship in Thailand, January 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.

"We watched the UAE vs. Vietnam World Cup 2022 qualification game and a couple of matches more to understand their style of play. But there are always surprises and I’m sure Vietnam will try some new things tomorrow," Skorza noted.

"Vietnam is a quality team. Organization and team spirit are their biggest strengths. UAE is aiming to qualify for Olympic 2020. However, we have to fully concentrate on the match with Vietnam first," he added.

Vietnam enter AFC U23 Championship as runner-up in the previous tournament. The team are considered a phenomenon across Asia for their achievements in the recent years, such as placing in the top four at Asian Games and top eight at Asian Cup. The match with UAE will be reported live from at 5:15 p.m., January 10.

 
 
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