Football expert Phan Anh Tu said young players in Vietnamese men’s football team need to strengthen their mentality if they dream of defending their SEA Games gold medal.
“Although Vietnam are well-prepared for this SEA Games, the pressure on players is big. When facing defensive teams like the Philippines, inexperienced players can be confused and don’t know what to do,” Tu said.
In the 0-0 draw against Philippines on Sunday, Vietnam struggled to find the net due to the opponent’s many-layered defense. There were also some good chances to break the tie but the players couldn’t convert them.
“The problems that U23 Vietnam faced is typical among youth teams. The players still lack composure and are sometimes too eager, especially in controlling the tempo and finishing. I hope that Vietnam will realize these weaknesses to improve their performance game by game,” he said.
Tu also noticed the similarity between the U23 and national teams. Both used the formation with three center-backs that have good physiques and duel capability. Midfielders often make long passes behind the opponent’s defense or open the ball to the flanks. But the team need more time to master this style of play.
“The solid defense with good defenders like Bui Hoang Viet Anh and Nguyen Thanh Binh will be a foundation for coach Park Hang-seo to build a playing style similar to the national team. On the flanks are Le Van Do and Le Van Xuan, two creative players with good skills. In the midfield, Ly Cong Hoang Anh also showed maturity,” Tu added.
He also emphasized the importance of three overage players on the team.
“Their role is crucial for a U23 team in a tournament like this. Their job is to glue the team together and operate the playing style that coach Park wants. Hopefully, with the guidance of the three over-23 players Do Hung Dung, Nguyen Hoang Duc and Nguyen Tien Linh, the young players will gradually adapt to this playing style and prove themselves in big matches.”
About Thailand, who have been considered the biggest contenders for the gold medal, Tu said they are strong on possession, using their quick, skilled and effective midfielders. The players are also free to be creative, which brings out the best in them.
“However, Thailand are also not a complete team. They still made mistakes. The defenders and goalkeeper didn’t have a good connection. The midfielders were strong in controlling possession and ball distribution but their defensive ability is not as good as Vietnam.”
Both Vietnam and Thailand are third in their group.
Vietnam will play the next game of group A in SEA Games 31 against Myanmar, who are on top with six points. A win will help Vietnam take the top spot and move closer to the semifinals.
The game will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, and will be reported live on VnExpress International.
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