SHAH ALAM – National Under-22 squad head coach Razip Ismail has urged his players, especially the defenders, to neutralise Vietnam’s lethal striker Nguyen Cong Phuong when both teams meet in an AFC Cup 2016 Under-23 Group I Qualifier at the Shah Alam Stadium tonight.
Razip who had watched Cong Phuong in action against the Uzbekistan U-22 squad on March 14, said the striker who plays for Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC can pose a serious danger if left unchecked.
“Apart from the striker who is good in creating chances for himself and others, the Vietnam side’s midfield is also very efficient,” he said after watching a recorded match between Vietnam and Uzbekistan, earlier.
Razip, a former International, leads his boys into their first ever AFC Cup competition, hoping to qualify for the finals that would be held in Qatar next year.
“The two group matches against Vietnam (today) and Macau on March 29 are important to try and collect points before facing Japan in the final group match,” he said after attending the team managers meeting for today’s match, here yesterday.
Meanwhile, Vietnam head coach Toshiya Miura said he had set his sights on avenging their senior squad’s humiliating defeat to the Malaysian national team in the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign.
Malaysia overturned a 1-2 deficit in the first leg at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Dec 7 by securing a surprise 4-2 win in the return leg in Hanoi four days later, to advance to final with a 5-4 aggregate.
“The first match will be important for us to boost the motivation among our players. I have to admit that all of our opponents in this group are quite strong but I hope they will put up a good performance,” he said.