Vietnamese players seen at their first training shift in Myanmar (Photo: vff.org.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnam are set to win the Southeast Asian Women’s Football Championship, which begins on July 26 in Myanmar.

The 23-strong Vietnam team, which left for Mandalay on July 24, will first play Singapore in the second match of Group A on July 26 at Mandalarthiri Stadium.

Their next rivals will be the Philippines (July 28) and Thailand (July 30).

Coach Mai Duc Chung praised the skills his players had gained from a training course in the Czech Republic last month. He said the results had raised his expectations for the team.

“We will do our best to take the crown back. They are now flying high after their training course and are ready to compete. However, my players have been asked to respect all their rivals. In the region, besides the strong teams of Thailand and Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines have made strong steps forward,” Chung said.

“It is difficult to say anything in football. We have to try in every game, step by step, to enter the final match.”

In the Czech Republic, the Vietnamese women had four friendly matches with local clubs, where they won two, drew one and lost one.

Chung said the result was good but the most important thing was that they learned a lot from their opponents who were superior in both physique and skill.

“My players have perfected their tactical and technical skills. They can now easily switch from one style to another in facing different teams,” Chung said.

Vietnam will apply short passing and movement techniques, working the ball through various channels and maintaining possession, which is, according to coach Chung, suitable for the players’ small stature.

For this championship, Chung has assembled both young and senior players. Among them is veteran striker Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet, who will play her last tournament under the national jersey.

Goalkeeper Dang Thi Kieu Trinh, defenders Chuong Thi Kieu and Nguyen Hai Hoa, midfielder Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung and striker Huynh Nhu are the key players of the team who have entered the last qualifier for the 2018 World Cup.

The new faces are defender Tran Mai Tuyen and midfielder Tran Thi Phuong Thao, who are expected to add new life to the whole team.

Captain Nguyet expects to grab the top podium at her final international competition.

“This is my last game. I will try my best, play hard and support my teammates well, so that we can achieve the best result,” said Nguyet in an interview with reporters before leaving for Myanmar, adding that the unity and support between the players was Vietnam’s advantage over Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.

Under Chung’s reign, Vietnam won the regional tournament twice, in 2006 and 2012.

Last year, the team stood fourth, losing 3-4 to Australia in the third place play-off. Thailand took the championship, beating Myanmar 3-2 in the final.

Thailand will play the Philippines in the first match of Group A.

Group B, which gathers the Australian U20 squad, Malaysia, East Timor and the hosts, will play on July 27.

Teams will compete in a round-robin format in the group stage. The two best teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals.-VNA