Vietnam's quickly improving national team eyes success at AFF cup

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The Vietnamese national football team beat Malaysia 1-0 again at Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium on November 1, after defeating the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup champions 2-0 in Malaysia on September 11.

The Vietnamese national team has improved dramatically over the past few weeks under the guidance of local tactician Phan Thanh Hung and British trainer Dylan Kerr, who has been in charge of improving the players' conditioning.

Indeed, the Vietnamese players looked strong throughout the 90 minutes of the match against Malaysia.

It would appear the Vietnam Football Federation made the right decision in choosing a local coach and a foreign assistant to prepare the national football team for the AFF Cup which will run from November 24 to December 22.

The team showed their physical toughness in the 1-1 draw with the Under-23 footballers from the Republic of Korea at the VFF Cup on October 28, Korean coach Han Sung Jua noting that while the Vietnamese footballers may not have the big strong builds typical of the Korean players, the strength and speed of the Vietnamese are not inferior.

The superb physical strength helped the Vietnamese footballers keep last Saturday's match under control, especially in the final 25 minutes. Excellent combinations among Ngoc Duy, Trong Hoang, Van Quyet and Thanh Luong in the midfield created a chance converted by Trong Hoang that broke the deadlock with 16 minutes left in the contest.

While winning what was just a friendly match may not seem like a big deal, it may help the Vietnamese players' confidence before next month's AFF Cup.

Vietnam still struggles with defending free kicks and corners. The Malaysians almost beat goalkeeper Hong Son at least once in the game in Hanoi on Saturday.

Also, the Vietnamese players need to be more precise in their passing and shooting because small mistakes are likely to cost them dearly in a major competition.

But recent improvements have led observers to believe a local coach can lead the national team to success at international competitions.

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