King's Cup 2019: Vietnam coach Park says squad selection fair

By Ha Do   June 1, 2019 | 11:53 pm PT
King's Cup 2019: Vietnam coach Park says squad selection fair
Vietnam football coach Park Hang-seo at a press conference in Hanoi, June 1, 2019. Photo by VnExpress.
Park Hang-seo asserts that the team for the upcoming King’s Cup has been selected fairly and will keep up the Vietnamese spirit.

The South Korean manager expressed confidence about the upcoming contest, where Vietnam will play Thailand next Wednesday.

"I do not think Thailand want to acknowledge Vietnam’s championship status. They are hurt by what has happened recently and very much want to face us. In spite of difficulties, we want to do our best in the Vietnamese spirit. As the reigning champions of Southeast Asia, we expect great pressure from the press and the fans," Park told the press in Hanoi on Saturday.

Vietnam were crowned champions at the AFF Cup last December, where they did not play the regional powerhouse Thailand. The two countries' U23 teams met last March at the qualifiers for the 2020 AFC U23 Championship, and Vietnam earned an unexpected 4-0 victory.

Thailand have said they are determined to beat Vietnam this time.

Park said: "To be honest, we are not afraid of any opponents, not just Thailand. We should pay no attention to what they say. We are proud to be champions, and that will at least remain until the next AFF Suzuki Cup."

Park announced the 23-member squad for King's Cup earlier this week, bringing back many familiar faces including those who have not performed well this season.

Some have questioned whether he favored particular players like Vu Van Thanh and Do Duy Manh, who are both injured, or Nguyen Trong Hoang, who was sidelined for the first half of V. League 1. Meanwhile, some did not get the call-up despite performing well for their clubs.

Park said: "It is true that many of the 23 players selected are from the few familiar clubs, but I can assure you that I do not pick players based on their reputation or clubs."

Many thought that players from Ho Chi Minh City FC, the current V. League 1 leaders, should be on international duty for King’s Cup, but Park saw it differently: "That a club is on top of the table does not mean their players should be selected. We did include many players from Ho Chi Minh City FC in our initial list, but some names had to be crossed out for the final one. We all have our own opinions, and there are various perspectives on a single event. Personally, I judge them as fairly as the way I judge other clubs. If I use their league position as a criterion, no players from the 14th-ranked club will be chosen."

Before traveling to Thailand on Saturday evening, Park received some bad news.

His trusted central defender Tran Dinh Trong sustained an injury when Hanoi FC played Hoang Anh Gia Lai on May 30 and could not travel to Thailand with the squad. Vietnam U-23 player Nguyen Thanh Chung has been called up to replace his teammate at Hanoi FC.

Vietnam are to face Thailand in an highly-anticipated encounter at 7:45 p.m. (local time) on June 5. India will take on Curaçao at 3:30 p.m. the same day.

Winners of both matches will meet in the final on June 8, while the two eliminated teams will play a third place playoff match the same day. All four matches will take place in the northeastern province of Buriram in Thailand.

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