Vietnam’s projected line-up for tough opener at 2020 AFC U23 Championship

Friday, 2020-01-10 09:18:26
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Vietnam are hundred percent ready for their opener against UAE in Group D of the 2020 AFC U23 Championships. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)
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NDO – Vietnam’s manager Park Hang-seo is expected to throw in his best players against strong rivals UAE, as they start their quest for a 2020 Tokyo Olympics ticket with their opener in Group D of the 2020 AFC U23 Championship in Buriram, Thailand, this afternoon (Jan 10).

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Within Group D, which also features Jordan and DPR Korea, the Emirati team are considered to be slightly better than the rest. Therefore, a good result against the West Asian opponents in their opening game this afternoon would hand Park’s side a huge opportunity to progress.

On their way, reigning runners-up Vietnam will face their first obstacle against familiar foes UAE, the side they had faced-off against in the group stage of the 2016 edition, with the UAE emerging with a 3-2 win to top the group, while Vietnam finished bottom at the time. At the 2018 Asian Games, the UAE also beat Vietnam in the penalty shootout to win the bronze medal. They drew 1-1 in another clash, this time a friendly in Ho Chi Minh City last October, as a warm up for Thailand 2020.

However, inspired by a 1-0 win over the Emirati first team in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier in November of last year, with the superb winner scored by Park’s key striker Nguyen Tien Linh, who is also in his U23 squad, Vietnam are full of confidence for when the two side meet again in Buriram later today.

In the latest training sessions, Park had his boys practice on group coordination and defending from afar. This is arguably the most effective way to deal with the Emirati side, who have good physique and a good long ball.

Vietnam’s projected line-up for their tough clash against UAE at 2020 AFC U23 Championship. (Graphic: NDO)

In order to perform their best to gain a good result in the opening match, Park needs his best squad with the most experienced players on the field. His top choice for goal keeper would be Bui Tien Dung, who was at his best in the previous edition as the goal stopper denied multiple efforts in several penalty shootouts to bring his side to the final. One more important thing is that Dung is much more experienced than his junior Van Toan, the second choice of Park in the wooden frame.

With the return of Vietnam’s best defender, Dinh Trong, Park will now have more choice for his defensive line, which plays a key part in his emphatic run during the last two years with Vietnamese football. Trong is likely to partner with Tan Sinh and Thanh Chung to form a three-man defensive line in Park’s favoured 3-4-3 formation.

His top choice for the right-back position, Ho Tan Tai, will be suspended in the opening game, so Park should place his trust in midfielder Trong Hung, who has been tested in the right wing by the Korean strategist in the recent training camps. The Thanh Hoa FC’s player plays relatively well that could boost Park’s right decision for the right wing. The left-back is favourable for Do Thanh Thinh, who has showed his best as a suitable replacement for his peer Doan Van Hau, who is absent from Thailand due to training with his Dutch side SC Heerenveen.

To increase the ability to defend from distance, defender Duc Chien is likely to push in the midfield to play as a defensive midfielder, as he has played well in the recent Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Coach Park Hang-seo and his side have targeted a 2020 Tokyo Olympics ticket. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)

Hoang Duc and captain talisman Quang Hai are the best selection for the offensive line, while the two highest strikers in Park’s 3-4-3 formation are none other than duo Duc Chinh and Tien Linh, who shone brightly in the 2019 SEA Games.

As the Thailand-based tournament acts as the Asian qualifying round for the 2020 Olympics, all teams have strong motivation to fight for victory. Vietnam have also set high determination and they need a good start to realise their Olympic goal.

TRUNG HUNG