AFF Cup: Injured Van Toan to be back in semifinal-second leg

The injury of Vietnamese Nguyen Van Toan is not as serious as initially anticipated and the striker is expected to be back to join the national squad in the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals against the Philippines.

Van Toan is likely to return from a hamstring injury in the next two weeks and can play the semifinal second leg against the Philippines at Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium on December 6. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)
Van Toan is likely to return from a hamstring injury in the next two weeks and can play the semifinal second leg against the Philippines at Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium on December 6. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)

>>> National squad return to training in preparation for AFF Cup semis

>>> Vietnam’s journey to AFF Cup semi-finals: Convincing and pride worthy

According to the team’s doctor, the Hai Duong native can return to the squad in the next two weeks, after being injured a day before their final Group A match against Cambodia on November 24.

The 22-year-old has played an important role in coach Park Hang-seo’s plan as he has scored many goals after being fielded from the bench. The super sub only made a single appearance in the AFF Suzuki Cup so far when he played against Myanmar on November 20, but he netted the ball in during that game only for the referee to rule it out for an offside.

His hamstring injury was initially reported to force him onto the sidelines for the rest of the tournament, however, the latest examination showed that Van Toan's injury is in good recovery.

“Van Toan was taken to a clinical examination, MRI and other tests. It will take him about two weeks to recover, and if everything goes well, he will be able to play the semifinal second leg at My Dinh Stadium on December 6," said the team’s doctor, Tran Anh Tuan.

Toan was excited and optimistic after receiving good news about his injury. He said he hoped to return to the field soon to keep up with his teammates in the remaining stage of AFF Suzuki Cup 2018, as well as towards the 2019 AFC Asian Cup next January.

Yesterday afternoon, Park’s players had their last training in Hanoi to prepare for the trip to the Philippines on November 28. The team will play the hosts in the first leg of the semifinal at Bacolod on December 2. The Vietnamese players have expressed their determination to get the best results to earn an advantage ahead of the return leg in Hanoi four days later.

AFF Cup: Injured Van Toan to be back in semifinal-second leg ảnh 1

The national squad had their last training session in Hanoi on November 27, before departing for Bacolod city, the Philippines, the next day. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)

To facilitate the team travel, the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has decided to board a direct flight to carry the players and coach staff to Bacolod city, instead of the normal civilian flight journey which includes several transits that may take up to 15 hours. The four-hour direct flight is scheduled to take off at 11am this morning on an A321 plane.

Meanwhile, the Philippines are facing more issues in preparing for the upcoming clash as their players have been forced to return to their clubs. The Filipino media reported that the Philippines squad have been downed to 18 players as midfielder Patrick Strauss, who has emerged as one of the stars of the Azkals’ campaign, was the latest player to leave the squad after he was recalled by German second division club, Erzgebirge, just a day after the Philippines clinched a place in the knockout round on Sunday in Jakarta.

AFF Cup: Injured Van Toan to be back in semifinal-second leg ảnh 2

Coach Sven Goran Eriksson to be tested as the Philippines squad have been downed to 18 players after their key players were recalled by clubs. (Photo: AFF Suzuki Cup 2018)

With the Suzuki Cup knockout round not covered by the international window, clubs are not compelled to release players for national team duty. Thus, Daisuke Sato, Stephan Palla and Neil Etheridge also had to return to their respective teams, while Luke Woodland was ruled out of the tournament only in the first game due to injury.

However, coach Sven Goran Eriksson does have some options to cover for the absence of Strauss and Sato against Vietnam, as defender Amani Aguinaldo is fit and could start alongside Alvaro Silva.