INCHEON -- Vietnam's South Korean football coach Park Hang-seo returned to his homeland on Wednesday with his players to train for a regional tournament.
Park, who manages Vietnam's under-23 and senior national football teams, arrived in South Korea with 30 Vietnamese players to fine-tune their preparations for the ASEAN Football Federation Championship, better known as the Suzuki Cup. The football tournament for Southeast Asian teams will be held from Nov. 8 to Dec. 15 in Thailand.
Vietnam are looking for their first title at the Suzuki Cup since 2008.
"I've always felt lighthearted when returning home, but this time it's different," Park told reporters at Incheon International Airport. "I felt pressure this time because we are going to play an important tournament."
Park's Vietnam team will train at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul, the training ground for the South Korean national team, until the end of this month. They will also have tune-up matches with K League clubs Incheon United, FC Seoul and Seoul E-Land during their stay in South Korea.
"Thanks to the Korea Football Association, we were able to train in South Korea," Park said. "I know lots of people in this country, so we were able to find our sparring partners easily."
Park said he is in the process of selecting the final roster of 23 players. The 59-year-old will have to cut seven players from his squad for the South Korea training camp.
"Most of our players are tired because the Vietnamese pro football league recently completed a season," he said. "Training is important, but it's also important for our players to recover their form and strengthen our teamwork."
Park earned national hero status in Vietnam after leading the country to a runner-up finish at the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship. He then guided Vietnam to the semifinals at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia, the country's best-ever performance at the Asian Games.
With expectations high for the Suzuki Cup, Park said he'll try his best to produce positive results.
"I've always received a lot of support whenever I come to my home country," he said. "Vietnamese people and media have big expectations for the upcoming tournament, and I do feel pressure. But I'll do my best." (Yonhap)