Defending champions Việt Nam are confident at the regional championship although most of the team members are juniors.
|Vietnamese players (in white) seen competing against Bahrain in a friendly match ahead of the AFF U23 Championship. Việt Nam has many junior players who aim to enter the final match. Photos of VFF|
HÀ NỘI — Coach Hoàng Anh Tuấn of Việt Nam confirmed many of his players will be teenagers at the 2023 AFF U23 Championship.
Việt Nam are in Group C and will play Laos on August 20 and the Philippines two days later.
“Việt Nam comes here as the defending champion but many players in my team are juniors. We have only three who are 22, the rest are from 18 to 20, and even a 17-year-old,” said Tuấn at a press conference on August 17 afternoon in Rayong. “My young players will have chances to test their skills and experience an international football atmosphere. We are confident to have a successful tournament as we want to (at least) advance to the final match.”
The U20 World Cup 2017 coach said he was faced with challenges when preparing for the tournament because the domestic leagues were ongoing so he could only have all the players for training for one day before leaving for Thailand.
He said many key players did not have enough time to practise with their teammates, leading to miscommunication and a lack of cohesion.
On August 14, Việt Nam had a friendly match against Bahrain which ended 1-1 in official time. Việt Nam then lost 3-5 in the shootout.
|Coach Hoàng Anh Tuấn of Việt Nam (second, right) during the Group C’s press conference on August 17.|
Asking about the two rivals in easy Group C, Tuấn said he respected all teams and wished them good luck. His team would have three more days to practise while watching the other teams competing.
In Group A’s briefing, Thailand head coach Issara Sritaro believed that the championship was the perfect avenue for players to shine and create a name for themselves.
Issara said that the teams they will be up against are familiar opponents which they had faced previously at the SEA Games 2023 in Cambodia in the middle of this year.
“We have played against Myanmar before (at the SEA Games) but tomorrow will depend on the condition of the day,” Issara told aseanfootball.org. “The players should know that this tournament is a great chance for players to shine. As the head coach, I expect to be the champion but there’s no pressure.”
Added Myanmar head coach Michael Feichtenbeiner: “We are in a very good situation with no injuries in the squad. We have brought in some young players to test them out. We have played against Thailand and Cambodia before at the SEA Games while this will be our first experience against Brunei.”
Meanwhile, coach Atsushi Hanita of Brunei said his team trained for several weeks and last week played against Laos, which was a good match as they now know what they need to improve on.
“We are looking forward to our first game where we hope that we can give a good account of ourselves,” he said
Cambodia head coach Felix Dalmas said a new generation of Cambodian players would take part in the event. They were excited to play against the best players from the region.
“This is a good tournament where we can not only improve ourselves but also improve the standard of football across the region,” he said.