Vietnam’s Under-22 footballers had their first training session on Malaysian soil on Sunday to prepare for their opening game of the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games football tournament, which begins on Monday.
The men’s football tournament usually starts a few days ahead of the opening ceremony of the region’s biggest sporting competition.
The Games this year are being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from August 19 to 30, with 404 events in 38 different sports.
The men’s football competition consists of 11 teams in two groups. Vietnam are in Group B with Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste and the Philippines. Hosts Malaysia share Group A with Myanmar, Singapore, Laos and Brunei.
The U-22 tournament allows a maximum of three overage players to be fielded per side, and begins on Monday with the Group A openers between Singapore and Myanmar at 3:00 pm (Vietnam time) and Malaysia and Brunei at 7:45 pm.
Vietnam will kick-off their campaign against Timor Leste at 3:00 pm on Tuesday.
Vietnam’s aim is to advance to the final, and the Golden Stars are optimistic about changing the color of their medal from silver to gold this year.
The Vietnamese have made it to the tournament’s final game five times in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2009 but never won. At the most recent Games in 2015, they won bronze.
|Vietnam's striker Nguyen Van Toan speaks to reporters.|
After their first training session in Malaysia on Sunday, striker Nguyen Van Toan told a press conference that the team’s goal was to bring home the gold medal.
“Vietnam U-22s have a high ability and I think the team will try its best to win one match at a time to reach the ultimate target,” he told reporters.
“Everyone looks for the title of champion and we too are aiming for this goal.”
Born in 1996, this is the last SEA Games for the Arsenal-trained striker. Asked if he felt under pressure given this will be his last chance to fulfill a ‘golden dream’ for Vietnamese football, Toan said he would try to be as relaxed as possible in every single match.
“This is the last chance for my teammates and myself,” he said.
“I think we should try to keep calm and finish each game with the best possible result.
“My personal goal is to score in every game.”