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Winning is vital: Vitorino

Ismail Vorajee / Khmer Times Share:
Leonardo Vitorino is looking ahead to tonight’s match against Vietnam. Courtesy FFC

Cambodia head coach Leonardo Vitorino is eyeing an historic win over Vietnam in the 2019 Asian Cup group C qualifier in Hanoi tonight.

“The next match will be very difficult. We do not only face a strong team, but also the pressure from our fans. However, I always ask the players to focus and make a great effort to play, regardless of whom the opponents are,” Vitorino told reporters.

“Natural or artificial turf is not a big deal for us. We come here to play football.

“I am building a team for the future, but I also hope to make history at My Dinh Stadium,” he added.

“Pressure is normal. That’s football. The pressure that I have is what I put on myself.”

Vitorino, who took over from South Korean Lee Tae-hoon in March, has struggled at the helm of the senior national side with only one win over Afghanistan in July in competitive action.

However, the Brazilian claimed that overhauling Cambodian football was a long-term project.

“Before I accepted the position of coach of Cambodia I knew that I had a job to do, to improve and refresh the team,” he said. “The important thing is we are optimistic about the future of Cambodian football.”

The Cambodia head coach also revealed that star striker Chan Vathanaka was suffering a minor injury and is touch and go about gaining a place in the starting 11.

“Chan Vathanaka, one of our most important players, has been injured. I am considering the alternatives of replacing him in case he will not be able to play,” said Vitorino.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese interim coach Mai Duc Chung said he was confident in his players – especially playing at home.

“This game is very important to both teams. We have home field advantage, home audience, natural grass pitch,” he said.

“Those are the advantages that we did not have in the first leg. The Vietnamese players have been very active, well prepared for this match.

“Cambodia relies on Chan Vathanaka. He scored two goals against us and Indonesia. We know about Vathanaka.

However, in football, we rely on the team. But of course, with such an individual we will pay close attention.”

Vietnam ran out 2-1 winners in September’s tie between the sides at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium.

Tonight’s match will be screened live from the My Dinh National Stadium in Vietnam on the Football Federation of Cambodia’s official Facebook page.

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