Strong foreign squads compete at Int'l U.21 contest

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 The U21 Malaysian squad arrived at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport on Thursday morning

Four foreign teams will compete with hosts Vietnam at the fourth International Under-21 Football Tournament which kicks off at Ho Chi Minh City's Thong Nhat Stadium on Saturday, October 23.

The organizers of the Thanh Nien-sponsored nine-day event said that the Singaporeans are the most prominent contenders at the contest.

Nine members of the squad advanced to the semifinals in last year's competition in Binh Duong.

Five of them competed at the second event in Hue in 2008 and four of them played at the 25th Southeast Asian Games (SEA) in Vientiane last year.

Thailand's team includes 90 percent of the U19 squad that advanced to the final match of the 2010 SEA U19 event in Ho Chi Minh City in August.

The Thais intend to groom these players to compete at the 26th biennial Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta next year in the U23 category.

After their U23 team's defeat at Thang Long Cup in HCMC early this month, Malaysia said they do not want to lose face again. Their U21 team coach Ibrahim Ismail said his squad includes seven players who competed last year and three that played at the second contest in Hue in 2008.

After a year off, Myanmar returns to this event with big hopes.

"The Thanh Nien-sponsored International U21 Football Tournament is a great place for us to discover new talent for Myanmar's team to participate at the ASEAN Football Federation Cup (later this year)," wrote coach Than Htike in a letter sent to the Vietnam Football Federation. "We are in the same group with hosts Vietnam and will play the opener, so we will do our best."

The Asian Football Confederation said it will send five international referees to the event. They are Lee Dong Jun from South Korea, Krishnan S/O Ramachandran from Malaysia, Xaypasenth Phongsanith from Laos and Thong Chanketya and Doung Sochet from Cambodia.

The three Vietnamese referees at the tournament will be Vo Minh Tri, Chau Duc Thanh and Tran Thanh Liem.

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