Viet Nam, Thailand face off in opener

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VietnamNet English - 100 month(s) ago 3 readings 1 duplicate news

Viet Nam, Thailand face off in opener

The national U23 squad in a training class.

VietNamNet Bridge – SEA Games’ football tournament kicks off today, December 2, with a match between two arch rivals U-23 Viet Nam and U-23 Thailand.

The opening match will start at 5.15pm today and will be aired live on VTV2 channel.

While coach Steve Darby of Thailand is confident, the Vietnamese team’s Henrique Calisto said: "nothing can be said before the match finishes."

"We have a lot of information from different sources about Viet Nam. I appreciate several Vietnamese players such as Tan Truong (goalkeeper), Thanh Luong (halfback) and Thanh Binh (forward). It is a strong team, but I believe in my players," says Darby who worked in Viet Nam for several years.

Darby, who is married to a Vietnamese woman, seems very relaxed before the tournament because he believes his team can win. However, the coach did admit that a match against Viet Nam, especially an opening one, is always difficult.

"The opening match is not easy for Viet Nam or Thailand. I myself want to win and we will win," he says.

At the send-off ceremony, the Briton said that anything less than a gold medal would be unacceptable.

Darby will also be supported by a Thai coaching staff that includes Kiatisuk Senamuang and Surachai who played in the V-League for years.

Their line-up includes 14 players who drew 0-0 with Viet Nam at November’s Viet Nam Football Federation Cup.

But according to their final roster that was announced last week, their key players, goalie Kawin, halfback Suttinan, Arthit Suntirnphit, defender Kiatprawut Saieowa and forward Teerasil Dangda, will play in the opener.

Darby is also looking ahead to further matches in the tournament and believes that the Thai squad will secure one of two tickets from group A to the semi-finals.

"One for Thailand is obvious, the other, I do not care about, but I hope Viet Nam will take it and we will meet again in the final."

But Vietnamese player and fans are counting on the return of Nguyen Trong Hoang.

However, it’s unclear if Hoang will play today because Calisto has stated that he will not risk his player.

"Hoang is a smart player who is an important part of the Viet Nam team. Without him it would be difficult to assemble the perfect team. I have made several changes but the results didn’t satisfy me," says Calisto.

"I do not know if he can play in the opening match, but he will help us a lot if he can join in the second match against Malaysia."

The Portuguese coach appreciates the Thai players and is not underestimating their talent.

"If our team can play like they did when we were training, with the spirit of the country behind them, we can win. Of course, we do not need to win this match at any rate. A loss or a draw is not bad," he said.

Calisto is counting on his team making it to the semi-finals. Viet Nam and Malaysia will be competing for a berth into the next round. Calisto has stated that beating Malaysia is more important than winning against Thailand at the moment.

"It will be the decisive match (against Malaysia) for us. We can lose to Thailand, but we must win this match to go on in the tournament," says Calisto.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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