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Vietnam coach cramped ahead of World Cup qualifier clash

By Hoang Nguyen   February 17, 2020 | 07:13 pm PT
Vietnam coach cramped ahead of World Cup qualifier clash
Coach Park Hang-seo attends a press conference at the AFC U23 Championship in Thailand, January 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
As the World Cup qualifier match against Malaysia looms, national coach Park Hang-seo is grappling with a dearth of time and human resources.

With the game more than a month away, it looks like the national team will have lots of time to prepare. In fact, however, they will only have 10 days to train due to the rescheduling of domestic leagues amidst the unpredictable situation with the novel coronavirus epidemic.

The delay in football leagues fixtures can prove detrimental to the national team. First, the players have to wait until the league opens again to get their training sessions and playing time. For the national team to function smoothly, the players need to perform well for their clubs as well.

Coach Park having just 10 days to get the players into the shape and sync is going to cramp him, considering that the players would not have had enough play time in the V. League 1 matches before the training, which was originally planned to begin on March 21. Now that the league matches are expected to start early March, the training time for the national team will be shortened.

On the table, Malaysia are only two points behind Vietnam, which means they cannot afford to lose this crucial game. But just one friendly against Iraq during preparation time might not be enough to make up for the play time. And this is not to mention that two key defenders, Tran Dinh Trong and Nguyen Trong Hoang, will have to sit out due to suspension.

Front line issues

The front line is perhaps the biggest concern for Park in team formation at the moment.

Ever since veteran striker Nguyen Anh Duc announced his retirement from international football, Park has been struggling to find a worthy replacement. Nguyen Cong Phuong has not been in good form since he joined Belgian club Saint-Truden on loan, but did not have enough playtime. Now the 26-year-old striker is trying to find his form again in the HCMC FC shirt.

The two young strikers Nguyen Tien Linh and Ha Duc Chinh shone at the SEA Games 30, but disappointed greatly at the AFC U23 Championship earlier this year, with Vietnam knocked out at the group stage itself, managing to score just once in three games.

For the World Cup qualifiers, Vietnam are leading group G with 11 points from three wins and two drawn matches. If they can beat Malaysia as guests at the Bukit Jalil Stadium, the door to the next round will open wide. This gives the upcoming match great importance as Vietnam look to maintain their Group G top spot.

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