Although the 2020 edition of the Asean championship is being staged in Singapore, the semi-finals will be played over two legs, reports the Bangkok Post.
Thailand and Vietnam will meet in the first leg this evening and the second leg on Sunday. Both games kick off at 7:30pm, Bangkok time.
It is dubbed an epic showdown between Southeast Asia’s top ranked nations.
“Vietnam under coach Park Hang-Seo have never lost to Thailand. But I think there is always the first time in everything and we are ready to fight for victory,” said Polking, who is in his first tournament in charge of Thailand.
Touching on the pressure that both nations face, Polking said he sees no reason to step away from the team’s attacking philosophy.
“They are the defending champions and we have the most titles of any nation in this competition so there is big pressure on both countries and I’m sure it will be a very exciting match between two good teams,” the German-Brazilian coach told a press conference.
“We expect to have the ball for longer periods and for Vietnam to defend but we will continue to play attacking football.”
Polking, 45, had a brief spell in Vietnam from late last year to earlier this year, but he said this is irrelevant. “I worked in Vietnam for a short time and this may not be of much help. But I have seen them - they are a good team and I know some of their players,” he said.
“Their players have been training together for five months and understand each other well. Although we have trained together for a short period, I am very pleased with what we have done together and the results of the team are getting better. Therefore, it will be a good game for Thailand and Vietnam.”
He added: “Vietnam have not yet conceded a goal in this tournament but we have scored in every game as well. We have confidence in ourselves. We will stay focused, play with patience and try to score goals. We hope we will get a good result over 180 minutes.”
Key players like captain Chanathip Songkrasin and record-breaking striker Teerasil Dangda will return to the starting line-up after being rested in Thailand’s last group game.
Park was full of respect for Thailand although he challenged Polking’s men to try and find a way to break down his steely defence that didn’t concede a single goal in the group stage.
“Thailand are always a leading contender to win the Suzuki Cup,” the South Korean said.
“While we need to find a solution to try and score against them, they also must find a way to score against us.”
Park, 64, also touched on the fact that Polking has experience coaching at club level in Vietnam, where he was in charge of Ho Chi Minh City FC, declaring it has little relevance to this game.
“We have no need to worry about that as it’s in the past but, while he might understand the Vietnamese players, we also understand the characteristics of the Thai team because we’ve played against them many times,” said Park, who has been coaching the Golden Star Warriors since 2017.
Thailand are the most successful nation in the biennial championship with five wins, followed by Singapore with four, while Vietnam have won the event twice.
The 2020 edition was postponed from last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Singapore and Indonesia drew 1-1 in the first leg of their semi-final last night.
The final will be played over two legs on Dec 29 and Jan 1.