Vietnam’s national football (soccer) team are optimistic that they will make history at the upcoming 2018 AFF Championship, contested by ten nations affiliated to the ASEAN Football Federation, which will kick off on Thursday.
According to Vietnam’s head coach, South Korean Park Hang-seo, the team are longing to relive the ecstasy of winning the Southeast Asian championship for the first time a decade ago, when Vietnam beat Thailand 3-2 on aggregate to claim the 2008 AFF Championship title.
Vietnam will start this year’s campaign with an away game against Laos on Thursday.
At the 2018 AFF Championship, Vietnam are in Group A with Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
Before leaving for Laos, coach Park had a meeting with the media in Hanoi on Sunday afternoon.
“We will try our best in every game to achieve our target,” the coach said.
He also shared his thought on the difficult selection of which footballers will be playing for Vietnam at the tournament.
“The chosen players have to meet all the assessment standards by the coaching board,” the South Korean said.
“As only 23 footballers can be registered, I had to leave home some of the good players, who are in good form and morale.”
Coach Park also expressed his confidence in the “cooperative” spirit of the team, with all players “concentrating on one same goal.”
“However, the players are quite cautious against such strong competitors as Thailand,” the South Korean man admitted.
“I have worked with all the players to help them have the best mentality before this competition.”
Ten years has passed since the 2008 triumph, Vietnam currently possess a ‘golden generation’ of young players, who were able to secure a striking final-eight spot at the 2016 AFC U-19 Championship.
These young talents have constantly brought Vietnam many historic achievements in the continental playgrounds, including the second place at the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship in China and the fourth-place finish at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
From this ‘golden generation,’ more than ten talents have been recruited for the 2018 AFF campaign.
Vietnamese football lovers, therefore, are having all eyes on the squad.
And not only the fans, it turns out that the Vietnamese players are also holding their expectations higher than ever on the upcoming 2018 AFF Championship.
“Significantly, there is a star on the Vietnamese flag,” Vietnamese midfielder Luong Xuan Truong said during a short interview with the cup’s organizers.
“It makes me think the meaning of this year’s motto, which is what we can do to make the star on Vietnam’s flag shine.”
The AFF Championship is held every two years by the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF). This year marks the 12th time the tournament has been organized.
The 2018 edition will run from November 8 to December 15 with newly updated rules.
A total of ten teams will be divided into two groups, playing at home and away before the knockout stages. Thailand are the defending champions.
In fact, the AFF Cup is not a major trophy, as FIFA only recognized it in their official competition system in 2016.
But it goes beyond any doubt that the Vietnamese would celebrate their winning Southeast Asia’s football competition as if they won the FIFA World Cup if they are able to repeat history this year.