Coach Mano Polking said Thailand need to be careful even though Vietnam are under greater pressure when the two teams clash in the AFF Cup semifinal Thursday.
“Everybody knows this is a big game, a special game because both teams played really well in the group stage and they are expected to win. Of course, compared to Thailand, Vietnam will be under greater pressure because they are the title defender. For Thailand, we have trained really hard and prepared the best for this game, physically and tactically. Now we are ready and confident,” Polking told a press conference Wednesday.
Thailand have won all four games in the group stage. Their key players also have more than five days to rest because Polking only used the B squad to beat Singapore in the previous game. Meanwhile, Vietnam still fielded the strongest lineup in their victory over Cambodia. However, Polking didn’t think it’s an advantage for Thailand.
“What I care about is that Thailand will have 11 players who play well and are ready for the game. It doesn’t matter if it’s the A or B squad,” he said.
Before becoming Thailand head coach, Polking used to work in Vietnam as the coach of V. League club HCMC. But he also didn’t consider this as an advantage.
“My spell in Vietnam was pretty short. It’s not enough to give me an advantage of how well I know their players. All I know is Vietnam have many good players and a great coach. Compared to Vietnam, we don’t have as much preparation time as them, but we have great players. The team have played really well in the group stage and understood my tactics thoroughly, so I believe they will be fine against Vietnam,” Polking added.
According to Polking, Vietnam at AFF Cup this year have a good defense and are lethal in counter-attacks thanks to their quick transition ability.
“We have spent so much time analyzing Vietnam’s strengths and weaknesses. Tomorrow we will have to keep possession and be patient. Vietnam haven’t conceded a goal so far with a great defensive line of three centre-backs and support from the midfielders. But Thailand will stick to their usual style of play. Our squad and tactics are working smoothly and I don’t see any need to change,” he said.
The first leg of the semifinals will take place at 7:30 p.m. (Hanoi time) on Thursday while the second leg kicks off three days later. The games will be reported live on VnExpress International.
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