Facing a challenging group in the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup, Vietnam’s preparations began in earnest this month with a promising two-week training camp in Europe.
With Group E favorites France along with Honduras and New Zealand waiting in South Korea, head coach Hoang Anh Tuan tested 25 players for possible inclusion in his final squad of 21.
Following a pre-departure win against a Vietnam U-19 Selection, the U-20 squad began their camp in Germany on April 17. Two days later, they demonstrated tight defending but narrowly fell 1-0 to Borussia Monchengladbach U-23.
Hoang made seven changes on April 23, when the team traveled to Holland to face Roda JC U-21. The adjustments proved fruitful, as Binh Duong striker Nguyen Tien Linh scored twice and was joined by Truong Tien Anh and Luong Hoang Nam in the final 4-0 scoreline.
But the coach was not satisfied with the shutout, pointing out deficiencies in defending and elsewhere.
“In some situations the players were easily caught offside,” Hoang noted. “Chances like that won’t always come (in the tournament). In some duels the players were inexperienced and couldn’t get the upper hand.”
The team then returned to Germany for a final training match, winning 4-1 against Fortuna Dusseldorf U-19 as Nguyen Tien Linh, Huynh Tan Sinh, Nguyen Quang Hai, and Ha Duc Chinh all found the back of the net.
“I didn’t think a Vietnamese team could play this well,” Fortuna coach Sinisa Suker said after the match. “The way they defeated our side was convincing, and a team with players of this quality could be a big surprise at the U-20 World Cup.”
The Vietnam squad will return home this weekend, with Hoang set to announce his final selections on May 8. Two days later, the team will take on fellow U-20 World Cup participants Argentina before departing for Cheonan.