The 20-member Vietnam U18 squad left Hanoi for Hong Kong (China) on April 17 to attend the International Youth Invitational Football Tournament 2019, hosted by the Hong Kong Football Association from April 19 to 22.
The Vietnam U18s join for a group photo at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport before departure. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)
According to the coaching team, this is an important tournament in the plan towards the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) U-19 Youth Championship 2019 hosted by Vietnam, as well as the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U19 Championship Qualifiers.
Coach Hoang Anh Tuan recognised the importance of the tournament in Hong Kong: "In the next few days, we will face the three U18 teams of Singapore, Myanmar and hosts Hong Kong. Vietnam U18s have only gathered for a short time and have just undergone 10 days of training, so there are still many issues to overcome. The next matches are very timely and necessary, helping the coaching staff make a closer assessment of the professional ability and performance of the players.”
According to the Khanh Hoa native, the current squad are quite uniformly professional and they need more time to train and compete to gain more success in the future. Tuan added that it is still about four months to the AFF U-19 Youth Championship and the team still have enough time to form the best squad and tactics for the upcoming tournament at home field.
In the immediate future, the national U18 team still have three more training phases to prepare for the regional tournament. Players attending the AFF U-19 Youth Championship 2019 will likely be the core of those that coach Tuan and his colleagues will entrust in the 2020 AFC U19 Championship Qualifiers.
Over the past years, the youth football movement has developed well in various localities across the country, evidenced by the emergence of multiple talented young players with good professional quality. “It's not only recently, but four to five years ago players like Cong Phuong, Van Toan and Xuan Truong inspired confidence in the Vietnamese football fans. Since then, young football has received very good investment,” Tuan said.
Over the last year, the impressive performance of the senior and U23 teams have had a strong impact on the interest and investment in youth football training. Besides the birth of training facilitates, there are also more community-based football centres. These positive signals will be a solid foundation for Vietnamese football in the future, Tuan added.
Vietnam U18s will have two days to prepare for the first match against Singapore U18s in April 19, then Myanmar U18s and hosts Hong Kong U18s on April 20 and 22, respectively. All matches will take place at 9 am (Vietnam time).