French coach Philippe Troussier said Vietnam’s U22 football team is looking forward to meeting Laos at their first SEA Games 32 match on Sunday.
“The team will play the best football they can, and the game with be the fruit of all our preparations over the past two months. We’re looking forward to the match tomorrow,” Troussier told the press on Saturday.
Vietnam has a mini-dynasty going as they was won the last two Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) under the guidance of South Korean coach Park Hang-seo.
But the streak has put pressure on coach Troussier, especially after Vietnam’s U22 squad lost repeatedly at nearly every friendly match held to prepare for SEA Games.
After winning the first match against Phu Tho FC, the team lost the remaining five matches, starting with Iraq, UAE and Kyrgyzstan at the friendly tournament Dubai Cup. They then lost again to Ho Chi Minh City FC and Ba Ria-Vung Tau FC at another local training evening.
Coach Troussier brought 24 players to Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, where the SEA Games are taking place. He’ll be allowed to place only 21 on the official roster, including three goalkeepers.
“Making that decision is not easy because in my opinion the players are all qualified. I chose the final team not only because of each players’ ability, but I also considered the flexibility of the squad. We played the whole [friendly] tournament with only 18 players…our team also has nine U20 players, so age is not a major criterion,” he said.
The Frenchman pointed out that this year’s Vietnamese SEA Games football team is the youngest in the country’s history at the event.
But he said he was “satisfied.”
“The team has good prospects and we will work to get the best results. We’re serious about this game. It’s good for the development of football in Vietnam and the region,” he added.
For his part, Laos’ coach Michael Weiss said Laos’ football has never quite reached the level of Vietnam, but he still has grounds to believe that his squad may produce better results this year than in the past.
“We’ve been well prepared for over a year now,” he said.
Members of the Lao U22 team are familiar with each other because they’ve played together for a long time. And the team boasts three players who’ve been playing with more competitive teams abroad, including American club Omaha Mavericks, German’s Bahlinger SC and France’s JA Drancy.
“Laos is in a group surrounded strong opponents, but we will try in each game, and hope to get a positive result,” he added.
At the 32nd SEA Games, Vietnam is in Group B, meeting Laos on April 30, Singapore on May 3, Malaysia on May 8, and Thailand on May 11.
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