HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam will play Indonesia in the opening match of the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games’ men’s football tournament on May 6.
A draw held in Hà Nội yesterday placed the two arch-rivals in Group A with Myanmar, the Philippines and East Timor, who will compete at Việt Trì Stadium in Phú Thọ Province.
Group B gathers former champions Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, and Cambodia. They will compete at Thiên Trường Stadium in Nam Định Province.
Teams will compete in a round-robin format in the group round. The two best sides of each group will advance to the semi-finals.
Semi-final and final matches will be played at Mỹ Đình Stadium in Hà Nội, with the last game on May 22.
Việt Nam head coach Park Hang-seo took part in the drawing but refused interview requests.
Former national midfielder Phạm Thành Lương, who also took part in the draw, said: “All teams have prepared well for the tournament. But we have home soil advantage. It can also be a little pressure on our young players but they will overcome it.
“Clearly Thailand and Indonesia are two main rivals of Việt Nam on the way to defend our crown. Indonesia, especially, has shown great progress recently as many of its U23s are senior national team members. It will be great as we play them in the first match.”
Indonesia lost to Việt Nam twice at the previous SEA Games in the Philippines in 2019.
Việt Nam won 2-1 in the group round and 3-0 in the final to take their first-ever gold medal.
The women’s football tournament’s draw was also held yesterday.
The hosts are in Group A with Indonesia, Cambodia, and the Philippines at Cẩm Phả Stadium in Quảng Ninh Province. Meanwhile, Group B includes Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Singapore, playing at Hải Phòng City’s Lạch Tray Stadium.
Việt Nam will kick off their title defending journey against Indonesia on May 9.
Like the men’s event, the semi-finals will see the four best teams from the group stage. The final is planned on May 21.
“Playing on home turf can be seen as either an advantage or disadvantage for Việt Nam,” coach Mai Đức Chung told reporters after the draw.
“As hosts, we enjoy strong support but also shoulder heavy pressure to play really well to defend our SEA Games No 1 place.
“Recently, ASEAN countries have invested a lot in women’s football for higher results. In this region, not only Việt Nam but also the Philippines have advanced to the 2023 World Cup Finals. Thailand also entered the play-offs. I believe that this year’s SEA Games will be tough and competitive.”
The 71-year-old trainer said up to now, he is pleased with his players’ performance. They are in good condition both physically and mentally.
Chung hoped that a two-week training camp in South Korea will help him to perfect the team. The 31-strong contingent flew yesterday and will come back on April 22.
In futsal news, Việt Nam will play powerhouse Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Myanmar in both men’s and women’s tournaments in Hà Nam Province’s Gymnasium. Teams will compete in round-robin format to identify the champions.
The women will play from May 10-19 while the men from May 11-20.
U23 team listed
Coach Park Hang-seo on Tuesday released a draft list of 27 players who will train and compete in the SEA Games.
The South Korean named three goalkeepers, 12 defenders, six midfielders, and six forwards.
Among them, nine won the Southeast Asian U23 Championship title in February in Cambodia including goalkeeper Trịnh Xuân Hoàng, defender Trần Quang Thịnh, midfielder Dụng Quang Nho and striker Nguyễn Văn Tùng.
As usual, Park also made several surprises in his list which has no national team member Nguyễn Hai Long who is still under-23 as well as striker Nguyễn Quốc Việt and midfielder Trần Bảo Toàn. Đặng Văn Tới, who was captain of U23 Việt Nam team at the recent international Dubai Cup, was also not named in the squad.
Park, however, wanted to test the skills of 19-year-old striker Bùi Vĩ Hào and 18-year-old midfielder Nguyễn Đức Việt. Both of them just took part in the national U19 championship last month and have never been called to the national U23 squad before.
In his list, Park still leaves three empty slots for over-23 players that he is still considering.
The four candidates are midfielders Nguyễn Hoàng Đức and Nguyễn Quang Hải, striker Nguyễn Tiến Linh and defender Đỗ Hùng Dũng. All of them were members of Việt Nam winning SEA Games title in 2019.
This year, the first three are over-aged while Dũng and midfielder Nguyễn Trọng Hoàng were two over-23 players of Việt Nam in the Philippines Games.
Vietnamese players will gather for their camp today in Hà Nội and move to Phú Thọ Province which host Group A games for training. They will have two friendly matches, one is versus South Korean U20 team, before the Games. — VNS