Vietnam ‘have something special’ says coach after dramatic win over Qatar

Vietnam celebrate their penalty shootout win over Qatar with their fans. (AFC.com)
Updated 24 January 2018
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Vietnam ‘have something special’ says coach after dramatic win over Qatar

LONDON: Coach Park Hong-seo said the desire to make the people of Vietnam proud inspired his players to a remarkable victory over Qatar in the AFC U-23 Championship semifinal.

Vietnam looked to be heading out of the competition when Almoez Ali, the tournament’s leading scorer, put Qatar 2-1 ahead with just three minutes left on the clock in Changzhou, but Nguyen Quang Hai curled in a brilliant left-footed effort just a minute later to send the match to extra time and then penalties.

There Vietnam goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung emerged as the hero, saving spot-kicks from Ahmad Moein and Sultan Al Brake to send Vietnam through and set up Saturday’s title showdown with Uzbekistan.

“Before this tournament I said that we (as a team) have something special,” Park told afc.com. “This result against Qatar is a result of my players sweat and effort. I told all my 23 players to put up a tremendous fight and that they should not disappoint the people of Vietnam. They did not let them down.”

The win came just three days after Vietnam’s equally remarkable quarterfinal win over Iraq, again on penalties, this time 5-3 after the game had ended 3-3 after extra-time.

“Ahead of the fixture, so many people thought that my players would be tired and that maybe that could have an impact on the result,” added Hong-seo, 62. “However, I stressed to my players that they were not to use that as an excuse. This was a very tough game and my players knew its importance and we prepared very well for it.”

Qatar coach Felix Sanchez was disappointed to see his side fall at the semifinal hurdle for the second time in two years.

“It was a very tough game against a very good team,” said the Spaniard. “We hope that the players will look back and realize that they had a good tournament. In football, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Today, it was our turn to lose, but I am pretty sure they are going to continue (to grow). As players they never give up and I am sure they are going to do very well in the future. I believe they will do just that.”


Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 23 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp
  • SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006

RIYADH: The president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) acknowledges there will be added scrutiny on the Green Falcons when they kick off this summer’s World Cup against hosts Russia in the opening game, but is confident the players can overcome any first-night nerves and rise to the challenge.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp as they start to fine-tune preparations ahead of the first game on June 14. The Argentine coach has taken 28 players with him, but must whittle the squad down to 23 by June 4.
SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006, sanctioning five training camps and arranging nine friendlies, several against high-profile opposition. Their final three games are against sides with top 20 FIFA’s rankings, a deliberate strategy to ensure they are not undercooked heading into Group A games against Russia, Uruguay and Egypt.
“We are at a critical stage of our preparations, one that needs concentration and discipline, especially as we face three strong teams in Italy, Peru and Germany,” said president Adel Ezzat in a video on the federation’s Twitter account. “Our objective is to be on form by June 14 when the eyes of the world will be on us in the opening match. We have a bright history in the World Cup and Asian Cup, so it’s our duty to live up to that reputation. I would like to address all Saudi fans, whether they will be watching the games on TV or from the stadiums in Russia: They should pray for the players. The players are our brothers and sons, and we should all love our Saudi national team. I urge the fans and the media to be united around the national team.”
Ezzat said the players have been energised and inspired by a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before they left for Switzerland. The crown prince demonstrated his commitment to the game in the Kingdom by this week vowing to cover all external debts totalling SR1.277 billion (around $340 million) owed by Saudi Pro League clubs.
“We are optimistic after the historic meeting between the players, staff and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Ezzat. “The meeting set the tone for the final stage of preparations, and the players are up for the challenge of meeting His Highness’ expectations.
“We are grateful for Prince Mohammed for his constant support and generosity toward Saudi football, be it the national team, clubs or the league. It’s our duty to repay the faith of our leaders. This is something that drives us forward and I’m fully confident in the players’ ability to do us proud in Russia.”