Reinforcements called up to strengthen U23 team at AFF Championship

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Việt Nam’s U23 team has been forced to call up six more players, due to COVID. They will face Thailand in a match that will decide the winners of Group C on February 22. — Photo of VFF

HÀ NỘI — Coach Đinh Thế Nam has been forced to call up six additional players to strengthen his squad at the AFF U23 Championship, which is ongoing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The players will join their teammates today, the same day that Việt Nam faces archrivals Thailand in a Group C clash at the Prince Stadium.

The reinforcements are needed after 11 players and two coaching assistants returned positive COVID-19 tests, causing a selection headache for coach Nam.

Việt Nam received the bad news the day after thrashing Singapore 7-0, when six players returned positive quick tests. This was on top of the previous four cases among players and staff.

Without the latest call-ups, Việt Nam only has 16 players available for the match that will decide who from Group C automatically advance to the knockout stages. However, the problem may get worse as more positive cases could be announced before the match.

According to the championship rules, teams can replace a maximum of 10 players due to COVID-19.

The six players called up are: Phan Tuấn Tài of Viettel, Đinh Quý from Quảng Nam, Vũ Đình Hai from Phù Đổng, and Huỳnh Tiến Đạt, Nguyễn Thành Nhân and Trần Bảo Toàn, all from Hoàng Anh Gia Lai. All of them performed well in the recent national U21 championships.

Việt Nam is currently top of Group C with a better goal difference to Thailand, who also defeated Singapore 3-1 last week.

A win or a draw against Thailand today will ensure Việt Nam advance. However, thanks to Việt Nam’s goal difference, losing by anything less than eight goals will see them through in second place.

Việt Nam isn’t the only team to be affected by COVID at the championships. Defending champions Indonesia withdrew several days before the opening ceremony, due to COVID and injuries. Myanmar arrived in Phnom Penh, but could not compete due to a lack of players. Singapore had only 14 players when they faced Việt Nam.

The match between Việt Nam and Thailand will be live aired on VTV6 channel from 7pm. — VNS

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