Vietnam v Yemen: Kocian keeps the faith

The respective coaches of Yemen and Vietnam have highlighted the belief and spirit within their squads ahead of a crucial Asian Cup tie.

Yemen defender Mohammed Ba Rowis (21).   -  Twitter / @afcasiancup

Yemen has predictably struggled in its first two matches at the Asian Cup, but head coach Jan Kocian insists it is capable of pulling off a shock by beating Vietnam in Al Ain and potentially qualifying for the last 16.

Neither Yemen nor Vietnam has picked up a point in the United Arab Emirates so far, each nation losing its first two Group D matches.

However, both teams know victory at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on Wednesday could well be enough to earn progression as one the four best third-placed finishers in the group stage.

Although Yemen - the lowest-ranked team in the competition - has been thumped 5-0 by Iran and 3-0 by Iraq, Kocian is determined to remain upbeat and has highlighted the mental strength of his squad.

"We are prepared for this game and I believe my players are ready to earn their first win," Kocian was quoted as saying by the Asian Cup's official website.

"My players may be a little inexperienced at this level but we are slowly improving. We have to start better against Vietnam, stay focused and play more compact football.

"I know we can play better. The slogan on our team bus reads 'never give up', so I believe this will be our chance to shine and put in a good performance."

Vietnam boss Park Hang-seo is similarly confident ahead of the game, but insists his team will not underestimate an opponent sitting 35 places below it in the FIFA rankings.

"Yemen are the same as us, they need the three points," said Park.

"We've done some analysis on their team and they are a good side. But my team’s fighting spirit is stronger than Yemen’s and we can win. Our team will give everything we’ve got to earn the three points."

Vietnam, which was edged out 3-2 by Iraq before going down 2-0 against Iran, will certainly start as the favourite against an opponent which has only recorded two shots on target in the tournament.

The 2007 quarterfinalist will be without centre-half Do Duy Manh, who picked up yellow cards in each of his side's opening group games. 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vietnam – Que Ngoc Hai

Vietnam's skipper shone in a losing cause as his side was beaten by tournament favourite Iran. In the absence of Manh, the defender is set to take on additional responsibility against Yemen.

Yemen – Ammar Hamsan

After conceding eight goals in its two matches to date, it is clear Yemen must improve defensively in the final group game. Centre-back Hamsan was one of his side's stronger performers against Iraq, albeit in a 3-0 defeat, and could have a key role to play.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first encounter at the Asian Cup between Vietnam and Yemen.

- Vietnam will be looking to end a run of four straight losses in the Asian Cup, where it has conceded at least twice in each of those games.

- Yemen has lost both its matches in the Asian Cup, conceding eight goals and scoring none, while it has fired in just two shots on target across those matches.

- Vietnam has failed to keep a clean sheet in each of its last five Asian Cup matches, since winning 2-0 versus United Arab Emirates in July 2007.

- After saving his first two shots on target in this year’s tournament, Yemen goalkeeper Saoud Al-Sowadi has since conceded a goal from eight of the last 13 shots on target faced.

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