The Golden Star Warriors head into the last matchday of the group stage knowing that a draw will be enough to secure their passage through to the semifinals.
However, coach Park Hang-seo’s side will certainly deliver their best to win the game by a wide margin, which will help them avoid a last-four clash against arch rivals Thailand, who have booked their ticket as the Group A winners.
Vietnam have demonstrated their power as the defending champions by pocketing two wins and one draw in the last three games. Such an impressive unbeaten run has put them in Group B’s second place on seven points, just behind Indonesia on goal difference (6:5).
Park’s troops were unexpectedly held by the Indonesians on December 15, but what’s important is that they have safeguarded their forces heading into the Cambodian clash.
Ahead of tonight’s match, experts highly appreciated the Vietnamese side and pointed out the big differences in terms of qualification and level between the two teams. An empty-handed result will be almost an unlikely scenario for the Golden Star Warriors who beat the Cambodians in their past eight meetings since 1995, most recently including a 3-0 win at the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018.
Despite giving words of respect for the opponents, Park affirmed that Vietnam will deliver their best to secure the full three points against Cambodia. Obviously, there will be no room for silly mistakes tonight because any will cost them dearly. Should the reigning champions play with their inherent form a commanding win against minnows Cambodia is quite within their reach.
Eliminated Cambodia, meanwhile, are in good mood following their 3-0 rout of Laos earlier in the week. With nothing to lose, Ryu Hirose’s side will play under no pressure and are looking forward to creating a stir against title holders Vietnam. Threats to Vietnam’s defensive line may possibly come from some players, such as Chan Vanthanaka or Siang Chathea.
This morning, Vietnam head coach Park Hang-seo announced his 23-man squad for the Cambodia match, with a few adjustments made from the most recent list against Indonesia. Defender Tran Dinh Trong has been left out due to muscle pain, alongside the return of midfielder Pham Duc Huy.
All team members have performed rapid COVID-19 tests according to the organisers’ regulations and shown negative results, and are now fully ready for tonight’s decisive match.
The Vietnam-Cambodia match is set to take place at 7.30pm at Bishan Stadium, while the other Group B encounter between Malaysia and Indonesia is being played simultaneously.
The current Group B standings. (Photo: AFF Suzuki Cup)
Earlier on December 18, the Group A action wrapped up with Thailand comfortably defeating hosts Singapore 2-0 to finish on top of the group with 12 points. Singapore followed in second place on nine points, three above the Philippines.
Vietnam’s 23-man squad for the Cambodia clash:
Goalkeeper: Bui Tan Truong, Tran Nguyen Manh, Nguyen Van Hoang
Defender: Que Ngoc Hai, Do Duy Manh, Bui Tien Dung, Nguyen Thanh Chung, Vu Van Thanh, Nguyen Phong Hong Duy, Ho Tan Tai, Pham Xuan Manh
Midfielder: Nguyen Tuan Anh, Luong Xuan Truong, Nguyen Hoang Duc, Nguyen Quang Hai, Tran Minh Vuong, Le Van Xuan, Phan Van Duc, Pham Duc Huy
Forward: Nguyen Cong Phuong, Nguyen Tien Linh, Ha Duc Chinh, Nguyen Van Toan