HA NOI — Japan’s 4-3 win over Australia on Sunday has pushed the winner and hosts Viet Nam to the semi-final round of the Ha Noi’s ASEAN Football Federation U19 Nutifood Cup.
Japan and Viet Nam, who shared top ranking in Group B after securing one win each, will meet each other during the second round match at the My Dinh National Studium at 7pm tonight. It will be aired live on VTV6 and VTV6HD channels.
Guillaume Graechen said the match against Japan was not strategically important because Viet Nam had already qualified for the next round.
The match will merely decide which team will top the group, but Viet Nam aim to dish out their best performance to please spectators with a beautiful game, Graechen added.
He noted that all players were in tip-top shape and wanted a win to avenge their 0-7 loss during a friendly international tournament earlier this year.
So far, only scant information about the team, now based at Thang Loi Hotel, has been released, and media access to all players and team officials has been limited.
Suzuki Masakazu, 59, coach of the Japanese team, said Viet Nam had shown much improvement in both speed and technique from about eight months ago.
He added that the tournament was an opportunity for his players to test their ability ahead of the finals of the Asian U19 Football Championships.
Though it has qualified for the next round as well, Japan is expected to flash its best form against the hosts to secure the top spot in Group B.
Masakazu said he was impressed with some players from Viet Nam, and his team had to find a way to neutralise them while maintaining the Japanese playing style to achieve the best results.
The coach cited his team’s fighting spirit and its strength in defence as factors favouring victory. He admitted that some personal mistakes had led to regrettable losses for them, but these would be solved before the match with Viet Nam.
The outstanding performance of young athletes have attracted young Vietnamese fans, who formed a line half-a-kilometre long in front of the Viet Nam Football Federation (VFF) Building since early yesterday morning to buy tickets to the game.
Hoang Viet Linh from Quang Ninh Province said he caught a bus to the capital city and was at the VFF Building since 3am, when he saw at least 100 fans lined up to buy tickets.
He also sought his employer’s permission to take two days off, one to buy the ticket and the other to watch the game, if he was lucky enough to get a ticket.
Nguyen Thi Kieu Diem from Tay Son town had accompanied her husband at the line since 4am. She had to pay VND500,000 (US$23) for two tickets to the match between Viet Nam and Australia last week.
The mother-to-be hoped that this time, as an early bird, she could buy the tickets at the right price of VND80,000 (nearly $4) each.