Thursday, July 12, 2007

Vietnam cautiously optimistic ahead of crunch match

Vietnam cautiously optimistic ahead of crunch match.
Coach Alfred Riedl is a win away from seeing Vietnam into the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup but he says he’ll still be surprised if his team makes it that far.

“It would be a surprise for me if we get to the second round,” Riedl said Wednesday. “I didn’t know before the tournament how strong the two Arab teams would be, but I did know that we came in as the outsiders. The other three teams were expected to beat us.”

Thanks to their shock 2-0 win over the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, Vietnam can reach the second stage of the tournament tonight with a win over Group B rivals Qatar at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi.

Vietnam has played Qatar twice in the past, both meetings coming in the qualification round for the World Cup in 1994. Qatar won both legs 4-0.

Riedl gives puts the odds of his squad beating Qatar at “fifty-fifty,” tipping the team with more luck on the night to take the spoils.

Vietnam will play in front of what is expected to be a sell-out crowd of 40,000 people, with untold thousands more watching on TVs around the country, but Riedl says there is no added pressure on his squad, appearing at the Asian Cup for the first time since 1960.
“Too much pressure makes you lose your mind a little bit,” he said. “So we try to shelter the players from the expectations of the nation. We put pressure on ourselves to win, but we don’t allow any outside pressure to affect us.”

Vietnam captain Le Cong Vinh agreed with his manager’s assessment, adding that his team was treating tonight’s match no differently than any other.
“Playing in front of so many Vietnamese fans will be a big advantage for us, but at the same time we have to play in a way that will satisfy them,” he said.

“On this occasion, I hope we show the world what Vietnamese football has to offer.”

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