Midfielder Trong Hung: ‘Vietnam remain focused on the 2020 AFC U23 Championship’s opener’

Wednesday, 2020-01-08 11:04:51
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Midfielder Nguyen Trong Hung talks to the press before Vietnam U23s’ training session on Tuesday afternoon, Buriram, Thailand, January 7, 2020.
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NDO – Vietnam U23s are in high spirits and remain focused on the opener in Group D of the 2020 AFC U23 Championship on Friday (Jan. 6), midfielder Nguyen Trong Hung has said.

Hung shared with reporters before his team’s training session in Buriram, Thailand, on Tuesday afternoon, in preparation for their opener at the continental tournament against UAE in two days’ time.

The reigning champions are stationed in Buriram to play their first Group D matches against UAE, on Friday, and Jordan, three days later, targeting to be among the top two finish slots in the group, which also features DPR Korea, to progress to the quarterfinals.

“After arriving at Buriram, the whole team is in good spirits. We are focused on the upcoming match. We have been prepared for a long time so all are energetic at this time,” Hung told reporters as quoted from the Vietnam Football Federation’s website.

Vietnamese U23 players in action during their training camp on Tuesday to prepare for their opening match of the 2020 AFC U23 Championship on Friday.

The midfielder from V.League 1 club Thanh Hoa FC is a young face who has received a lot of expectation in the Vietnam U23 squad attending the AFC tournament this year. Trong Hung himself has also set a high determination to work with his teammates to achieve the set goal – wining a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as the Thailand-based tournament also acts as the Asian qualifying round for Tokyo 2020.

The first obstacle for Vietnam is the UAE, who are the favourites to win a ticket to the knockout phase from this group. However, Trong Hung revealed that head coach Park Hang-seo has a plan to neutralise their strong opponents.

“It is not just me but all the teams have learned a lot about UAE U23s. They are a very good team with good technique and physique. However, coach Park has a solution. For me now, I will show a strong determination to work with the team to achieve the set goal,” the 1997-born affirmed.

Captain Quang Hai and co are focusing on preparations for their Group D opener against UAE on Friday.

Trong Hung tore his left thigh muscle in the opener against Brunei in the recently-closed 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in December last year, but he promptly recovered and played in both previous friendlies against V.League 1 side Becamex Binh Duong and Bahrain U23s ahead of the AFC tournament.

“My injury has improved but the team’s doctor has suggested players who have just returned from injuries to rehabilitate to strengthen muscles and avoid recurring injury,” the 22-year-old midfielder said.

As Hung has returned to normal training, coach Park began placing him in a new position in the right wing. Trong Hung's forte is on the left wing, but as the Korean strategist is seeking a replacement for senior right-back Trong Hoang, who was impressive at the 2019 SEA Games, Hung has been tested in the new role which was left by his senior peer.

In the upcoming AFC tournament, Park will not have the service of his best left-back Doan Van Hau, who is on a training camp in Spain with his Dutch side Heerenveen, as well as his top choice for the right-back in senior player Trong Hoang. For that reason, the replacements on both wings for Vietnam U23s will be important.

Coach Park Hang-seo and his assistant Lee Young-jin during Vietnam’s training camp in Buriram on January 7.

“In recent matches, coach Park has piloted some players and me in new positions. We are professional players, so we must adapt to fulfil all the positions assigned by the coach. I also feel a bit different in the new position, but I am familiar with playing on the left wing and trying on both wings now will be very good for me and the team,” he said.

Earlier on the same day, Hung and his teammates learned about Video Assistant Referee (VAR), which will make its full debut at the upcoming tournament. Having made its successful debut from the quarter-final stage onwards in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in January last year, the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 will be the first AFC competition to implement the VAR system in all 32 matches.

Also on the Tuesday afternoon, Vietnam U23s visited Buriram Stadium, the venue for their first Group D games, before entering their training session. To ensure the quality of the pitch for the tournament, all teams are not allowed to train on the field at Buriram Stadium. However, coach Park has asked the organisers to allow his players to walk on the field to get a good sense of the space in order to prepare for their next games.

Photo: Vietnam Football Federation