National football team gather for Hong Kong fight

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The national football team will gather in Hanoi on Monday to train for a match against Hong Kong on March 22 as part the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2015 qualifier.

Temporary head coach Hoang Van Phuc is looking for a better result than the team's 1-2 home loss to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Hanoi on February 6.

The match in Hong Kong will not be aired live like the game in Hanoi last month because the cost of TV rights is too high [US$30,000] and Vietnam Television (VTV) refused to pay Hong Kong to broadcast it on VTV.

Coach Phuc said, "As planned, the team will be at Hanoi's La Thanh Hotel at 5 p.m. on March 11. Vietnamese expats Mac Hong Quan and Michal Nguyen from the Czech Republic returned to Vietnam a few days ago.

"Goalkeeper Thanh Binh, and midfielders Quoc Anh and Nguyen Sa have asked to come late because they must play for their club Da Nang in the AFC Cup in Maldives on Wednesday March 13. The absence of these favorites for a few days won't have a big influence on the training because they are all professionals."

Hong Kong not easy

Coach Phuc said his team played "pretty well" in the game against UAE.

"Despite the 1-2 defeat, my players showed a commendable display. Yet the match ahead will be very difficult and challenging. The coming away match will not be as easy as many people think. I've never dared to imagine Hong Kong to be an easy rival," he said.

"I've asked the Vietnam Football Federation to provide me with a video of their [Hong Kong] match against Uzbekistan on February 2. We shouldn't think of Hong Kong as a weak team because they fought to a scoreless game even though they had only 10 men in the second half."

Phuc said that despite recent praise, the Vietnamese team needs to improve. However, he said his squad fully understood each other now, and no replacements would be necessary.

VFF managers have said that Phuc would be invited to work as an official head coach of the national team if he and his team play well against Hong Kong. That is also the official opinion of the General Department of Physical Training & Sports.

However, Phuc still looked reserved and said that he would focus all his efforts on the fight against Hong Kong before thinking of anything else.

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