In Thailand, where sports intertwines with culture, a football spectacle awaits, as fans across Asia gear up for the U17 Asian Cup. With strong and unwavering determination, India’s U17 side will aim to make a positive impact on the field, fueling the dreams of glory of the ardent fans of the Blue Tigers. Amidst the anticipation, a challenging test looms for the youngsters in the group stages, pitting them against formidable opponents – Japan, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan.
Japan, reigning champions from the previous edition which was held for the U16 age category, and Uzbekistan, victorious in 2012, present formidable challenges. Meanwhile, Vietnam‘s qualification as winners of Group-F in the qualifying stages, having triumphed over teams like Thailand, Chinese Taipei, and Nepal, further intensifies the competition. As the stage is set for India’s inaugural match in the Asian Cup against Vietnam on 17th June at the Thammasat Stadium, we will delve into the Vietnam U17 team in this article.
History in the U17 Asian Cup
Since the year 2000, Vietnam has showcased commendable consistency, securing qualification to the main tournament in eight editions, with only three instances of falling short in 2008, 2012, and 2014. Remarkably, it was during the year 2000, where Vietnam also served as hosts, that they achieved their highest accolade of finishing fourth. Despite their admirable efforts, Vietnam’s path beyond the quarter-finals has eluded them since that triumphant campaign, with their sole quarter-finals appearance since coming in 2016, when the tournament was held in India.
Performance in Qualifiers
Vietnam found themselves grouped alongside Chinese Taipei, Nepal, and Thailand in Group-F during the Asian Cup Qualifiers. Leveraging their formidable team strength and the advantage of playing on home soil, Vietnam emerged triumphant in all three matches, displaying some dominating performances as they scored twelve goals and conceded none. Notably, Bui Hoang Son, Le Dinh Long Vu, Nguyen Cong Phuong, and Nguyen Le Phat stood out as each contributed two goals during the qualifiers, propelling Vietnam smoothly into the upcoming main tournament.
Preparations ahead of the tournament
The Vietnamese side started off their preparations with a 16-day training camp, commencing from April 1 to April 16, following the announcement of the Asian Cup groups. Under Hoan Anh Tuan, the manager of the U17 side, a squad of 34 players was summoned for the camp, conducted at the PVF Football Academy in Hung Yen. Eager to leave no stone unturned, the Vietnamese Football Federation orchestrated the team’s readiness for the upcoming tournament with multiple training camps, both at home and abroad.
Following the initial training camp, the team regrouped in Hanoi on May 3 for an intensive two-week training program held in Phu Tho. Once the sessions concluded on their home turf, the team left for Qatar for further training. Vietnam and Qatar had previously inked a MoU that focused on youth football.
During their training camp in Qatar, Vietnam faced formidable opponents in Laos and the Qatari U17 team. While their encounter with Laos resulted in a 0-0 draw, the Vietnamese side exhibited their prowess by triumphing over Qatar with a resounding 2-0 victory. After concluding their brief camp in Qatar, the team headed to Japan, where they embarked on a two-week camp. They engaged in friendly clashes against local sides such as Kaiseikan High School, U18 Honda FC, and Tokoda University. The U17 side showcased their mettle, emerging triumphant with impressive 3-1 victories against Kaiseikan and Honda FC, while battling to a 3-3 draw against Tokoda.
Upon returning back to their homeland, Vietnam held a final camp in Vung Tau, ensuring optimal physical and mental conditioning before their voyage to Thailand for the much-anticipated main tournament.
During the training camp in Japan, assistant coach Tran Minh Chien had said, “I believe that this group of players is the one we should have hopes for in terms of future achievements, similar to the previous generations like Quang Hai and Tien Linh.”
Coach Hoang Anh Tuan, meanwhile shared the same optimism, “In my opinion, attitude and determination are the strong points of the Vietnamese players, and it is important for the players to show their full potential. U17 players are the foundation for the big goals of Vietnamese football. I want the players to do their best.”
The coaching staff’s words reflect their confidence in the current squad’s abilities and their potential to leave an impact on Vietnamese Football, and their own commitment to the development and success of the youngsters.
Squad for the U17 Asian Cup
Goalkeepers: Pham Dinh Hai, Nguyen Bao Ngoc, Nguyen Quang Huy
Defenders: Phan Van Thanh, Nguyen Luong Tuan Khai, Truong Nhac Minh, Dang Thanh Binh, Nguyen Quoc Khanh, Bui Van Hoang, Nguyen Hoang Nam, Le Nguyen Quoc Kien, Nguyen Huu Trong, Dinh Quang Kiet
Midfielders: Pham Nguyen Quoc Trung, Vi Dinh Thuong, Le Dinh Long Vu, Nguyen Cong Phuong, Phung Van Nam, Nguyen Anh Tiep
Forwards: Nguyen Thien Phu, Phung Quang Tu, Le Huynh Trieu, Nguyen Le Phat, Hoan Cong Hau
Vietnam’s U17 side will be led by Hoang Anh Tuan, who is also the coach of their U20 side. Tuan, after his last stint in club football with Haiphong FC, joined the youth setup of Vietnam and has since coached at multiple age-levels. Tuan, very recently, led the U20 side in the U20 Asian Cup held in Uzbekistan. His team however could not make it past the group stage as they finished behind Iran and Australia in their group.
Although they couldn’t progress beyond the group stage, Tuan’s team displayed resilience, finishing with equal points as Iran and Australia. Unfortunately, their head-to-head record dashed their hopes of advancing. Notably, the team showcased their defensive prowess by conceding a mere four goals in the group stages, complementing their impressive clean sheet record during the U17 Asian Cup qualifiers. Tuan’s ability to organize a solid defense shines through both.
Assisting Tuan is Le Tan Tai, a known figure in Vietnamese football who once led the national team as its captain. Tran Minh Chien and Tran Duc Curong, both former national team players, are also a part of the coaching staff, lending their experience to the team in Thailand. Curong will serve as the goalkeeping coach. Furthermore, the team will also have Jose Brandi Regato as fitness coach, known for his contributions to prominent Brazilian teams like Vasco Da Gama and Madureira.
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