Speaking at a press conference on Friday ahead of the AFC Champions League match between HAGL and Yokohama Marinos on Saturday night, Kiatisuk said: “I was touched to see the long lines of fans making the queuing to buy tickets to see the HAGL game. That’s the motivation to allow us to enter the tournament in the best possible way.”
Club coach Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) was candid: “We will compete with the greatest spirit and give our best. Let’s see how HAGL performs tomorrow.”
He also admitted that HAGL didn’t play well in the last edition of the V-League. However, the Vietnamese league and a regional tournament are two different arenas and “the tactics will also be different,” he said.
Despite problems in the offensive line, coach Kiatisuk said HAGL will try to attack the rival’s net because “we can’t win if we only play defensively”.
“So we will try to have high possession and show our best,” he said.
HAGL has registered 31 players for the tournament. “It’s a good opportunity for young players. I hope they make the most of it,” Kiatisuk said.
In the 2022 V-League, HAGL played four matches, drawing three and losing one to finish ninth out of 13 teams.
Their rival is one of Japan’s most successful teams, with three championships and two J-League 1 titles. Under head coach Kevin Muscat, Yokohama Marinos finished second last season and were elected club with the best style of play. They scored the most goals in the tournament, 82.
They also sit in second place this season, scoring 17 goals in the first 10 matches.
Coach Kevin Muscat of Yokohama Marinos talks to the media during a press conference at HCMC on April 15, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
The Muscat coach said at the same press conference that HAGL’s style of play is very unpredictable and the club currently has many players in the Vietnam national football team.
“HAGL has a lot of good players. Their players play a vital role and contribute greatly to their national team’s offensive line. As a result, they will surely be tough opponents for Yokohama.”
There were no Yokohama players in the Japan squad which drew 1-1 with Vietnam in the last round of the 2022 World Cup third qualifying round – Asia region on March 29.
HAGL provided three strikers in this game.
“So we looked at their gameplay videos. Because football is a team sport, we focus on solving the style of football rather than individual HAGL abilities,” Muscat said.
Under coach Kiatisuk, HAGL qualified for the AFC Champions League (ACL) in 2004 and 2005. However, the team failed to progress through the group stage. No Vietnamese club has passed the group stage in ACL history.
Yokohama also participated in the ACL three times and failed to make it past the group stage.
The Japanese team arrived at HCMC earlier this week with 66 members, including 30 players.
Due to Covid-19, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has chosen HCMC’s Thong Nhat Stadium as the centralized venue for all Group H matches. The games will take place from April 16 to May 2.
The other clubs in Group H are South Korean champions Jeonbuk Huyndai and Australian club Sydney FC.