Vietnam will take on archrivals Thailand in their first AFF Cup semi-final game on December 23, and this clash would be a big test for coach Park Hang-seo and his Vietnamese players in quest of defending their championship title they secured in 2018.
The Vietnamese team traditionally don’t have a good record against Thailand in the semi-finals of the AFF Cup, previously called the Tiger Cup. Statistics show Vietnam only recorded one win from four semi-final encounters against Thailand.
The last three years has seen both senior and U22 sides coached by Park enjoy three wins and three draws against Thailand. In qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, the two teams have played out two draws in both matches.
The national players have shown their maturity after experiencing both success and failure in international tournaments.
At the AFF Cup 2020, Vietnam are the only team to have conceded no goals in four group matches. Although the national team aren’t in the best form, their defence line remains strong, but their attack has yet to fire on all cylinders as some key players are out of form because of injuries.
As a result, Vietnam failed to score a goal against Indonesia and finished in second position in Group B.
The Thai team are much changed going into the AFF Cup 2020. Indeed, key players Chanathip Songkrasin and Theerathon Bunmathan who play abroad were called up for the regional tournament, whilst famous Brazilian expert Alexandre Polking was assigned to coach the team.
Thailand finished first in group A after four straight wins, showing an impressive attacking style coached by Polking.
Undoubtedly Thailand are the number one contender for the AFF Cup title this year as they have a quality squad, said coach Park at a press conference on December 22. However, he stressed that the Vietnamese team will try their best to win the match.
The first leg of the semi-finals between Vietnam and Thailand is scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. (Hanoi time) on December 23.