Vietnam’s U22 team are set to come up against a number of disadvantages after it was revealed they will play their fixtures on artificial turf pitches during the upcoming SEA Games 30 in the Philippines.
Rizal Memorial Stadium (Source: rappler.com)
This will be the first time in the 60-year history of the event that the football tournament won't be played on grass.
The three stadiums selected to hold the men’s football matches, including the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, the University of Makati Stadium and the Binan Football Stadium, all use artificial turf.
Except for the Philippines and Cambodia, all other teams are currently practicing and competing on grass. They will have four months to switch to an artificial surface as the football kicks off.
Vietnam’s head coach Park Hang-seo immediately asked the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) to switch their plans to allow more time training on artificial turf.
VFF General Secretary Le Hoai Anh said both the national football governing body and the head coach were surprised but would soon adjust the training schedule.
“It is shock news that forces us to overthrow our plans. We will send a representative to the Philippines to check the fields. It is not familiar to us but it must reach standards for competitions. We and other teams have to accept this decision,” said Anh.
He added that players would arrive in the Philippines days earlier than originally planned to train on turf.
The hosts also rejected a proposal to allow teams having 23 players to compete at the SEA Games.
The organisers confirmed that each squad would have total 20 players in which two can be over-22.
A total of 11 teams, divided into two groups, will compete in the men’s football during SEA Games 30. The qualifying rounds will begin on November 25 and conclude on December 5. Meanwhile, the semifinals are scheduled to take place on December 7 with the gold and bronze medal matches slated for December 10.
In the women’s football, eight teams will also be divided into two groups. The qualifying rounds will take place between November 28 and December 4. The semifinals are due to take place on December 6 while the gold and bronze medal matches will be held on December 9.
Vietnamese head coach Mai Duc Chung will also seek solutions in order to help the female players get acquainted with the artificial turf pitches as matches will be held at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, the University of Makati Stadium and the Binan Football Stadium.
Vietnamese women are the defending champions of SEA Games.-VNA