Coach confident to have enough players for AFF semi

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Việt Nam players train in Phnom Penh for the AFF U23 Championship. Việt Nam are confident of having enough players to finish the tournament. — Photo of VFF

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam are still suffering the COVID curse after more players tested at the AFF U23 Championship, but coach Đinh Thế Nam is still confident he will be able to field a team for the semi-final against East Timor today.

Seven more players tested positive on Wednesday morning. They will have to re-test to confirm their condition ahead of the kick-off.

Currently, Nam has only 12 healthy players including one goalkeeper who can compete tonight at the Prince Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

If they cannot find 13 players, the team could be kicked out of the tournament.

“We are faced with big trouble,” said the coach.

“I lost more players after beating Thailand. This morning, some more players are positive with COVID.

“But we encourage all the team to keep a positive spirit and make sure we do our best against East Timor. We have plans and will have enough players for this match.”

Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) immediately sent four more players who went by coach from Việt Nam to reinforce the squad.

It will be the second time the squad has been strengthened with players dispatched to make up the numbers. Earlier, six players joined the team ahead of the Thailand match.

The four new players are goalkeeper Trần Liêm Điều of Nam Định, defenders Đoàn Anh Việt from Sài Gòn and Hồ Khắc Lương of Sông Lam Nghệ An and striker Võ Nguyên Hoàng from Phố Hiến.

“I am surprised to have received the call but it is great that I will have a chance to play for the team,” said Hoàng.

The only goalkeeper available for training was Đặng Tuấn Hưng. — Photo of VFF

Nam congratulated his players after a tough win over Thailand. His team also had enough players as regulated just hours prior to the match. He said his players who were actually U21s competed with strong mind and great determination.

He said he could not ask for more from the team and he hoped the spirit would remain in the next match, confident the new additions would quickly integrate with the whole team.

“East Timor has their own playing style,” Nam said.

“They have strong physique and free mind. I have watched them and saw several players years ago. I highly rate this rival.”

Coach Fabio Marciel of East Timor said he regretted that Việt Nam was strongly affected by COVID-19, adding it was not good news for the match.

He said he wanted to win but win with a sporting spirit.

The Brazilian said East Timor watched games of Việt Nam, a title favourite with a smart attacking style and hoped Việt Nam will have enough players and compete well.

The match will be live aired on VTV6 channel and broadcast on vov.vn from 7.30pm Hà Nội time. — VNS

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