Sunday , February 5 2023

‘We didn’t come here to play defense’: Thailand head coach


Thailand head coach Mano Polking is hoping his team will score against Vietnam in the first leg of the 2022 AFF Cup final at My Dinh National Stadium on Friday.

“We need a good result. But what’s exactly a good result?” Polking asked at the pre-match press conference in Hanoi on Thursday. “It’s good to get a draw but it’s better to win. We didn’t come here just to play defense. We want to score. It’ll be really great if we score at My Dinh.”

The 46-year-old coach expects the two legs of the final to be full of excitement because this is a clash between Vietnam, who has the best defense and second-best attacking line in the tournament, and Thailand, who has the best attacking line and the second-best defense.

In the most recent encounter in the 2020 AFF Cup semifinals, Thailand won 2-0 in the first leg and drew 0-0 in the second. But Polking said both teams have changed a lot since then.

“Vietnam have two months of training together and all of their important players are fit,” he added. “Thailand are not so lucky as we’re missing some players, although we have had some quality replacements. Vietnam have a higher chance of winning, but we will fight.”

The Thailand coach also thinks that the pitch condition of My Dinh National Stadium is not bad, but he will check it out again during tonight’s training session.

“At SEA Games 31, My Dinh’s pitch was not green nor beautiful, but was good enough to play on,” Polking said. “We will have an accurate evaluation during our training session. I don’t believe that the pitch condition can stop the players from having a good game tomorrow.”

Thailand have five players who received yellow cards in the semifinals. If they receive one more yellow card in the first leg of the final, they will miss the second leg.

“We know the regulations and will avoid getting booked. But on the pitch, it’s impossible to predict, because all the players will try their best to have a good game,” he said. “And if they are unlucky and get a yellow card, then we still have replacements for them.”

Polking pointed out that Vietnam has a similar problem, with four players at risk of being suspended in the second leg final because of penalty cards – Doan Van Hau, Do Hung Dung, Bui Tien Dung and Vu Van Thanh.

Polking has spent the past 10 years coaching Thai clubs and their national team. He also coached V. League club HCMC FC from 2020-2021. Based on his experience in Vietnam, he said that he likes “the fighting spirit of Vietnamese players.”

Statistics from the 2022 AFF Cup 2 show that Thailand lead in the number of goals (16), goal ratio per match (2.67), the number of passes (3,480), pass accuracy (87%), number of shots (128), shots on target (45), corners taken (40) and number of penalties (3).

The 2022 AFF Cup final first leg match will take place at 7:30 p.m. (Hanoi time) on Friday and will be broadcast live on VnExpress International.

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