Nguyen Huu Thang: Vietnam will fight until the last second
Coach Nguyen Huu Thang has hailed his players’ mentality ahead of the first leg of Vietnam’s AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final with Indonesia on Saturday.
Vietnam topped Group B in the regional competition following successive wins over Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia to book a date with Group A runners-up Indonesia.
The three victories followed what has been a hugely successful year in which only Iraq – in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier in March – have managed to get the better of Huu Thang’s side.
Vietnam also won two of their group stage matches with winning goals in the final 10 minutes as the Gold Stars showcased their never-say-die attitude.
“What we have gained this year is a good mentality,” said Huu Thang, who is without suspended defender Truong Dinh Luat after his sending off in the 2-1 win over Cambodia.
“I focus on building the team spirit and we all understand this so we are ready. One of the few things I repeat is to never give up. A game lasts around 95 minutes and the players should fight until the last second.”
Saturday’s hotly anticipated clash in front of what promises to be a packed Stadion Pakansari will be the third time the teams have faced off this year.
The sides played out a 2-2 draw in Yogyakarta two months ago before Vietnam claimed a 3-2 win in Hanoi in November.
Coach Nguyen Huu Thang takes Vietnam training in Bogor on Friday evening.
Huu Thang also knows his opposite number, Alfred Rield, well as the Austrian helmed Vietnam during his playing days.
“We have met each other in two friendly games lately and now we meet again in the semi-final,” added Huu Thang.
“I respect Riedl a lot and I think this will be a very exciting match because we know each other quite well.”
Indonesia came through the group stage after Stefano Lilipaly’s late winner against Singapore gave them their first win of the tournament following an opening-day defeat to Thailand and a stalemate with the Philippines.
The four-time runners-up have looked impressive going forward but remain frail at the back, scoring six and conceding seven in their three games to date.
“Indonesia have proved to be more dangerous game by game,” noted Huu Thang. “They have many players who can pressure us and create chances so I have to consider a lot of factors.
“But we are also a team of talented players and we will show what we can do tomorrow.”