|Vietnamese players train to prepare for the match with Thailand in the Asian zone’s second qualifying round for the World Cup 2020 on September 5. (Photo: vff.org.vn)
The national side will take on Thailand on away turf in the Asian zone’s second qualifying round, and head coach Park Hang-seo said they have nothing to fear.
The coach was speaking at a press conference in Thammasat, Bangkok, on September 4.
“I am a head coach so I will face pressure in every tournament, including big events like World Cup qualifying,” said Park.
“Recently, all Thai teams have lost to Vietnam. I know Thailand prepared for this match carefully. They have a new coach. The upcoming match will be difficult for the Thais. They want to win, however, we also have prepared fully and with self-control. We will play with the spirit of Vietnamese people,” Park added.
The Korean coach also said Vietnam aren’t afraid of Thailand.
“We beat Thailand 1-0 in the King’s Cup in June. Of course, this win doesn’t mean much. If considering the football history of Vietnam and Thailand, Vietnam are at a disadvantage. However, now is a new time. Our players are more confident. The win in the King’s Cup brought Vietnamese players confidence. Thailand is a strong rival but we aren’t afraid of them,” said Park.
The coach said Vietnam would key in on Thailand's star play-maker Chanathip Songkrasin.
"Songkrasin is a talent. I saw him play at the Asian Cup. He can play well with two feet. Thailand have many good players but Songkrasin one we are cautious about,” said Park.
Speaking at the press conference, captain Que Ngoc Hai said the Vietnamese squad have prepared well.
“We had 10 days to prepare for the first game but all of us are ready. We are very comfortable to take on Thailand tomorrow,” said Hai.
Hai also said the Thai players will want to prove themselves to new coach Akira Nishino.
“Thailand have a new coach so footballers will try their best to prove themselves to him,” said Hai.
Meanwhile, to prepare for the match, the 'War Elephants' have entered into something of a media lockdown. Reporters were barred from their training sessions, while the facility was hidden by pieces of sheet iron.
Thailand are attempting to get back on top of the region's football ladder and are reportedly paying coach Akira Nishino nearly 1 million USD per year.
The Japanese coach led his nation to the last 16 of the Russia 2018 World Cup and has been with Thailand for a month.
Nishino said he was very glad to be hired to coach the Thai team and is ready for his first game.
"Seven days of preparation is not much, however, I spent time talking with my players. Siwarak Tedsungnoen will be captain of Thailand. I like his personality,” said Nishino.
“Our process of preparation finished fine. Thailand have many young players. They proved their desire and skills. They are worthy to represent Thai football,” Nishino added.
Vietnam's final 23-man squad was only finalised on September 4, and there was good news for coach Park.
Starting fullbacks Doan Van Hau and Nguyen Trong Hoang, of SC Heerenveen and Viettel respectively, both made the squad after fears injury would rule them out.
The Korean coach made few surprises with his selection, sticking with players who have served him well in his last more than two years in charge.
Al-Adba Saoud Ali of Qatar will referee the match. Ali, 33, who became a FIFA referee in 2016, worked the qualifying round of the AFC U23 Championship 2020 in Hanoi earlier this year.
Ali will be supported by Qatari assistants Dharman Mohammad Jaber and Al-Shamari Yousuf Afef and Al Hatmi Qasim Matar Ali from Oman.
The match will kick off at 7pm at the 25,000-seat Thammasat Stadium in the city of Rangsit.