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Park to fix Vietnam’s problem ahead of Australia clash

Park Hang-seo is worried about the physique of his Vietnamese players when they play Australia in their second match at the Asian Football Federation U23 Championship in Kunshan, China, on January 14.

After the first round Group D matches on January 11, the Korean coach said the coming match would be more difficult than the first, as Australian players have much better form than his players.

“Vietnamese players are always confused when they face rivals who are bigger and taller than them. However, I think we can beat them if we play with confidence. I will have to change my players’ attitude when they are facing a huge opponent,” said Park through an interpreter.

Park said Vietnam’s 2-1 loss to the Republic of Korea in the first match occurred because of personal mistakes, although the whole team in general played well and did what he had instructed them to do. He said they would do better.

“It was the first match. We could have made it something special when we scored first but unfortunately we lost. In the next game, we will play Australia, a strong team with good technique. However, we have the right to hope for a positive result, and we can spring surprises,” he said.

Park and his players spent hours watching video clips of the Australian team playing, and they have analysed their pros and cons. They then discussed how to fix Vietnam’s weaknesses, including high-ball resistance, which was one of Vietnam’s long-time problems.

On the other side, the Olyroos defeated Syria 3-1 in their first match. In their rosters, there are five players who have faced Vietnamese players in several tournaments since 2014.

Daniel Peter De Silva, George Blackwood, Benjamin Garuccio, Brandon Wilson and Stefan Ingo Mauk were members of the youth team who lost thrice to Vietnam, comprising players such as Nguyen Cong Phuong, Luong Xuan Truong and Nguyen Van Toan, in international tournaments during the last four years.

However, Australia are ranked higher compared to Vietnam, and they are even a title favourites this year.

Blackwood has become a sharp goal hunter after he made a double in Australia’s win on January 11.

Coach Ante Milicic said his players could not lose their focus if they want to have a good result against Vietnam.

Australia is on top of the group ranking. Another win on January 14 will push them to the knock-out stage.

He said Australia has respect for all rivals. "Vietnam was a good team. I watched them and saw that they were really determined during the whole game. Their defenders worked specially well. His players must prepare carefully for that game."

However, Milicic confirmed that he may not have some key players for the match because of injuries.

Striker Bruce Kamau, who scored the second goal for Australia, and midfielder Milislav Popovic, who assisted Kamau in that goal, left their field just several minutes later.

“We got three points, but we have sustained a couple of injuries so that is a sour note," he said on

Two years ago in the same tournament, Australia and Vietnam were drawn in Group D. Australia beat Vietnam 2-0. However, both sides were eliminated after the group round.