|U22 players in a training session in HCM City to prepare for the regional championships. (Source: foxsports.com.vn)
Speaking with reporters in Ho Chi Minh City on February 12, head coach Nguyen Quoc Tuan said his team would be in the final.
"Local leagues started this month, so many of my best players are unavailable. But Vietnam have achieved success in recent years and that will be our incentive. The coaching board and I have set a target of reaching the final," he said.
His team have spent about a month working together preparing for the tournament. They drew with the Republic of Korean’s Ulsan Hyundai FC 0-0 last month before tied 1-1 against Sai Gon FC on February 12.
Tuan was pleased that his players could maintain their performance and competitive spirit throughout the matches. They also had the chance to play on astroturf which is similar to the stadiums in Cambodia.
Vietnam are in Group A with Thailand, Timor Leste and the Philippines. Group B includes Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodia.
"Thailand and the Philippines will be our main rivals. We want a strong start against the Philippines first and then we will adjust our line-up for Thailand (February 21)," said Tuan, adding that the presence of national team head coach Park Hang-seo would be a boost for his young squad.
"It is the first time that a championship has been organised for the U22s. It will be a chance for the players to sharpen their skills as they are core of the Vietnam team for the Southeast Asian Games in 2019 and 2021," said Secretary General of the Vietnam Football Federation Le Hoai Anh.
All 16 matches from February 17-26 will be aired on VTV5 and VTV6.