Vietnam, reigning champions Thailand, and Malaysia will compete for two tickets to advance in Group B with three other rivals Laos, Brunei, and Timor Leste in the men’s football (soccer) event of the upcoming 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore.
At the drawing ceremony in Singapore on Wednesday, the hosts, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Cambodia were pooled into Group A.
Vietnam U-23s were beaten 1-3 by Thailand in a friendly match on March 22 and defeated hosts Malaysia 2-1 in the qualifiers of the AFC U-23 Championship late last month.
According to current regulations, participating countries are only allowed to field under-23 sides at the SEA Games, to be held in Singapore from June 5 to 16.
“The result of the drawing is equal for both two groups,” said defender captain Que Ngoc Hai, who added that each group has three strong teams competing for two tickets to advance.
“Vietnam in Group B with one team more than Group A but it does not matter because our Japanese coach Toshiya Miura is good at training fitness,” Hai remarked.
“We want to face Thailand or Malaysia in the final match, so it’s interesting to meet them in the group stage.”
Thailand have many strong points but all sides have their own weak points, the captain said, adding that the Vietnamese “do not fear” anyone in Southeast Asia now because they are making good progress.
“Vietnam were eliminated after the group stage at the SEA Games in Myanmar two years ago, so I want to claim the championship in my last chance at the coming competition,” Hai said.
Commenting on the drawing, Thailand’s coach Kiatisak Senamuang said he expects Thailand and Vietnam to make it to the last-four round of the 28th SEA Games.