Fresh from leading this Vietnam Under-23 side to the Southeast Asian Games gold medal last month, Park is looking to take the momentum into AFCU23.
Vietnam will take on United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their opening Group D match of the 2020 AFC U23 Championship in Buriram, as they seek to match or better what they did in the same tournament two years ago where they went all the way to the final.
UAE will not be strange opponents for Park, who has already masterminded one win over the Emirates in recent times albeit one with the senior side in the 2022 World Cup qualifications. But the Korean is mindful that every match will be different but he’s done his homework on the Middle East side.
“The first match against UAE will be a difficult one. The Emiratis are a strong team and we have faced them before in the 2018 Asian Games where the game went all the way to penalty shootouts, so we know what to expect from them.
“We know they have eight players here who are regulars in the first team as well. We played them in a friendly last year and since it is the first game for both sides here in Thailand 2020, there is a bit of pressure but we will find a way to overcome this.
“We are considered as one of the favourites in this tournament because we did well in the previous edition where we finished runners-up, but all 16 teams here have an equal chance to win the tournament. Our condition is not at 100 percent. However, we will try to get three points from the first game and improve as we go along,” said Park in the pre-match press conference.
He will have for selection the player who did score in the 1-0 win over UAE back November 2019 in Nguyen Tien Linh as well as inspirational Nguyen Quang Hai although the latter maybe used more cautiously after he suffered a thigh injury during the aforementioned SEA Games.
After this match against UAE, Park will prepare his squad to face Jordan on January 13 before closing out their group matches with a tie against DPR Korea on January 16. The top two in the group earns a direct spot in the knockout stage of the competition.
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