Victorious Vietnam coach in bullish mood

January 17, 2007

SINGAPORE, January 17 (Asean Football Championship) - After watching his team whip Laos 9-0 in the final group B match at the Asean Football Championship, Vietnam coach Alfred Riedl said he was prepared to face any team in the semi-final.

'If you want to win the championship you have to beat all the teams,' said the Austrian, who guided the Vietnamese to the final in 1998, when they lost to Singapore.

'I would have preferred to have played Thailand in the final but we've got to face them in the semi-final now.'

Vietnam finished second in Group B and will host Group A winners Thailand in the first leg of the two legged semi-finals next Wednesday before playing the return leg on Sunday.

Malaysia, meanwhile, will face Singapore in the other semi-final at home on Tuesday and play the defending champions away on Saturday.

Asked if he preferred to play the first leg of the semi-final home or away, Riedl said there was no great difference.

'When you play at home you have to take a risk and when you play away, it depends on how you did at home.'

The Austrian stressed that the victory over Laos came at the expense of an extremely young team and on a playing surface his players are not familiar with.

The match was played on artificial grass at the Jalan Besar Stadium and Riedl had earlier expressed concern about its effect on his team.

'Our thoughts were to score three or four goals in the beginning because we had no idea how it would go on this surface as we have never played on it before,' he said.

'We scored nine goals. Yes, we missed chances but it is very difficult to play on this surface.'

Star striker Le Cong Vinh scored a hat-trick while his strike partner Phan Than Bien bagged four. Defender Nguyen Van Bien popped up twice in the Laos box to grab two goals for himself.

Laos coach Saythong Syphasay put on a brave face after the drubbing and said the result was expected because he had brought a very inexperienced team to the tournament.

'We know our fitness is not very good but we will be better for the next tournament,' he said, adding that the Asean Football Championship was good preparation for the 2009 South East Asian Games.