Thai Son Nam put best foot forward at AFC tournament
Forward Tung suffered a broken toe against Naft Al Wasat of Iraq last week, ruling him out for the rest of the tournament in Bangkok, Thailand.
The injury is a huge loss for the Vietnamese side after their second-placed finish in last year’s tournament.
Thai Son Nam advanced to the last eight with a perfect record of three wins and 15 goals.
They beat AGMK FC of Uzbekistan 3-1, Al Rayyan Sport Club of Qatar 5-1, and Naft Al Wasat 6-4 to top Group B
Their Chinese rival Shenzhen Nanling Tielang placed second in Group A with two wins against EREM FC of Kyrgyzstan and Star FS Seoul of the Republic of Korea, and one loss to Thailand’s Port FC.
The two sides have met twice in the past in this tournament, with the Vietnamese winning 5-1 win four years ago and drawing 2-2 in 2013.
Coach Pham Minh Giang knew his side would face challenges but believed they could win.
“We are ready to take on Shenzhen tomorrow. We have done good job in the group stage to reach the knockout stage and we will do our best to secure a berth in the semi-finals,” Giang said.
He said apart from Tung’s absence he would have his top players for the match.
“We don’t have anyone else injured apart from Vu Duc Tung. We have a day’s rest and that helps my players recover well and they are in good physical condition for the big game tomorrow,” he said.
On the other side, Shenzhen Nanling Tielang head coach Jurandir Azeredo admitted his team are underdogs.
“We are happy to reach the knockout stage of the competition in a group where not many expected us to qualify. I want to thank my players for the commitment and dedication to win the games,” Azeredo was quoted as saying on afc.com.
“The match is going to be a very difficult test for us as Thai Son Nam are the favourites to win. They are the 2018 finalists.
“I hope we play a good game against the Vietnam team and achieve a positive result. Of course, dreams are possible and I believe we can beat them,” he said.-VNS/VNA