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National team players to face draining 2021 run

By Hoang Nguyen   June 23, 2021 | 03:43 pm PT
National team players to face draining 2021 run
Vietnam (R) play the UAE at the World Cup qualifiers on June 15, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa.
Multiple domestic and international tournaments will exhaust national team players in the last months of 2021.

After passing the second round of World Cup qualifiers for the first time in history, the national team will have nearly three months to prepare before the third round begins in September. However, during that time gap, the players will continue to partake in domestic and international club tournaments. Many key players of the national team representing Viettel FC and Hanoi FC will go overseas to play the group stage of AFC Champions League and AFC Cup, set to complete by mid-July.

When the players return to Vietnam, they will continue the second phase of V. League from late July to late August. Then, without any rest, they will gather with the national team to prepare for the third World Cup qualifying round that will start on Sept. 2. But that’s not all. After six games of World Cup qualifiers, the players will begin their journey to defend their AFF Cup title, which is set to take place from Dec. 5 to 31.

Therefore, by calculation, national team players might have to play around 18 to 23 matches from late July until this year ends, which will squeeze their stamina to the last drop.

With such a tight schedule, the players can get injured and exhausted, which will directly affect tournament results as well as the goals of Vietnamese football this year. This is a make-or-break situation for the national team, so to ensure the best conditions for players, medical and nutritional care is crucial in keeping the players healthy and charged for the long run. To do that, coordination between clubs and the national team is key.

The pressure on head coach Park Hang-seo will be huge as well. Because aside from the World Cup qualifiers and AFF Cup, he will also have to coach the U22 team at SEA Games 31 to defend their 2019 gold medal.

One suggestion would be sending the national team to compete in the World Cup qualifiers, while the U23 team plus two experienced players play AFF Cup and SEA Games 31. That way, the workload will be reduced for the national team and young players will have the opportunity to gain more international experience.

 
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