Sports

Việt Nam have self belief ahead of Japan in Asian Cup opener

Coach Troussier has opted for a mix of experience and youth with his 26-player squad selection for the tournament in Qatar.

Football

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Vietnamese players in training on January 11. Việt Nam will play Japan on January 14 in the Asian Cup’s Group D opener. Photo courtesy of VFF

HÀ NỘI — Despite facing Asian powerhouse Japan in their opening match of the 2023 Asian Cup on Sunday, head coach Philippe Troussier is believes his side can cause an upset.

Coach Troussier has opted for a mix of experience and youth with his 26-player squad selection for the tournament in Qatar.

He’s put his trust in veteran defenders Đỗ Duy Mạnh and Hồ Tấn Tài, midfielders Đỗ Hùng Dũng and Nguyễn Quang Hải, and forward Nguyễn Văn Toàn.

But he’s also opted for young talent too, selecting defender Võ Minh Trọng, midfielder Khuất Văn Khang and striker Phạm Tuấn Hải.

There are also fresh faces in the squad with goalkeeper Nguyen Filip and defender Giáp Tuấn Dương called up for the first time.

Troussier’s selection has made Việt Nam one of the four youngest squads in the competition which began yesterday with hosts Qatar taking on Lebanon in Lusail City.

During training ahead of the opening match, Troussier instructed his players to work hard and play with focus and determination.

He also met with his coaching team to analyse all rivals in Group D, especially Japan. They also closely reviewed Việt Nam’s 2-1 loss to Kyrgyzstan in a friendly on January 9.

Troussier expressed his confidence in the progress of the team and said that all his players in Qatar are ready to implement Việt Nam’s playing style.

“At the 2023 Asian Cup, the opponents are considered stronger, but winning against Việt Nam is not easy. Việt Nam never gives up. Let’s keep that spirit when we enter the tournament,” Troussier said.

He said the Asian Cup was totally different from other events in the Southeast Asian region. Players needed to try harder, give more effort and especially believe in each other and the preparation of the team, making Việt Nam a unified squad.

“I want players to be proactive in all situations, be confident when they have and control the ball, and don’t wait for a moment of brilliance or for mistakes from rivals,” he said.

“Against Japan, we may lose to them nine times out of 10 matches, but we might beat them once. Who knows if it will be this one.”

Troussier is the only coach at this tournament to have previously won the Asian Cup.

He led Japan to victory in 2000, beating Saudi Arabia in the final. He was also voted coach of the year by the Asian Football Confederation.

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Japan will be seeking a record-extending fifth AFC Asian Cup title in Qatar. Photo courtesy of JFA

Japan completed their preparations in style after beating Jordan 6-1 in a behind-closed-doors friendly match on January 9.

Head coach Hajime Moriyasu used the opportunity to give his squad playing time with two completely different sets of teams fielded either side of the break.

“It was positive that we could check our concept as a team both in attack and defence,” said Moriyasu, who believes a record-extending fifth title is within reach.

Missing from Japan’s squad are some big names, but Moriyasu said he has “assembled the best members to win”, with the Samurai Blue last lifting the AFC Asian Cup in 2011.

“I’ve been saying we’ll look to win the Asian Cup after setting our short and mid-term targets, as well as the long-term target that is the 2026 World Cup,” said Moriyasu to Kyodo News.

“There are no easy opponents nor is it an easy tournament, so no changes there from the last to this one. The difference I have is a lingering frustration from missing out on the title last time, and also the desire to grind out results in Asia as we’ve set a high target of winning on the world stage.”

Japan are unbeaten in their last 10 matches in all competitions and have scored a minimum of five goals in each of their last four games.

Theo Vietnamnews