Vietnamese players practice at Kunshan Stadium on January 9. (Photo: VNA)
Speaking at a press conference on
January 10, Park said: "The Republic of Korea are one of the title
candidates. The match will be very difficult for Vietnam, especially in the
cold weather which strongly affects players’ performance. However after one
week training here, my players have gradually adapted to it.
"In a group of strong rivals, we have to work hard for each game. And hopefully we can make a miracle here,” said Park through an interpreter.
Park, a Korean coach, is slightly concerned because he has almost no information on the RoK squad who are veiled in secrecy.
However, Park said he partly understood how the RoK would play after many years watching clubs competing in the domestic tournament.
He said it was important that his players keep their confidence high during the game.
Today’s match will also be special for Vietnamese captain Luong Xuan Truong as he will face a team from the country he has played in for the last two years.
The midfielder competed first with Incheon United and then at Gangwon FC, and the 22-year-old is determined to leave an impression in his side’s tournament opener.
"I’m quite confident that we can make something happen here, something special,” he said. "I’ve had two years in the RoK but I didn’t improve a lot. But through this tournament I want to tell them that I am good enough to play in the RoK,” Truong said.
Truong said he has learnt a lot during his time there and he knew how professional the Koreans were.
"The players are professional in everything. In every situation they always think about what they have to do. They think about football and talk about football all the time and that makes the team better.”
To Truong and some other teammates, including striker Nguyen Cong Phuong, it will be their last competition at the youth football level before they reach the age limit.
Phuong said: "We will try our best at this competition so that we can say an impressive goodbye to the U23 team.”
On the other side, coach Kim Bong-gil said as the runner-up in the previous championship, South Korea are targeting the trophy this year.
He said his team just practiced at home in preparation for the tournament but they were very confident.
Kim said Vietnam was a good team under an experienced coach so it must be a well-organised team with dynamism and high spirit. He hoped the coming match would be a good game for both sides.
Korean captain Hwang Hyun-soo said he knew Vietnam’s playing style and believed in a win for his side.
Hwang is the only player of the team who competed in the previous championship’s final match which saw his team lose to Japan two years ago.
He said a loss to Japan was a memory to be left behind but it gave him great lessons. This year they would do all they can to take the title.
The defender said Vietnamese media mentioned a surprise in Group D’s opener but the RoK would start their journey with a win because they knew Vietnam.
While the Vietnamese begin their campaign against the Koreans, they will also face Australia and Syria in Group D, with the country hopeful of continuing their growth on the continental stage.
In the latest result of the tournament yesterday, two other representatives from the ASEAN zone suffered failure.
Thailand lost 0-1 to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Malaysia were defeated 0-4 by Iraq.