How did you get by the 2022 Ladies’s Asian Cup?
I misplaced 5 kilos because of the strain earlier than and throughout the video games. All through my profession, I’ve by no means confronted such a difficult event. Many gamers on the crew acquired Covid-19 throughout a coaching journey to Spain and so they have been caught there. So we went to India for the event with solely six gamers and 5 different members. Solely three gamers have been in ok situation to coach.
Due to this fact, after every session, I needed to keep up all evening and discover a approach to encourage the gamers. I didn’t sleep most nights and generally had one or two hours’ sleep. I had an all-nighter earlier than the ultimate playoff towards Taiwan. However as a coach, I couldn’t hand over as a result of that may have ruined all the pieces we had ready for.
Which recreation do you suppose was the turning level for Vietnam?
It was the sport towards China within the quarterfinals. Although we misplaced 1-3, that recreation helped us with our preparations for the playoffs.
In that recreation I put all the important thing gamers on the bench as I wished gamers who had simply recovered from Covid to have match time and preserve others for the following video games. I advised the crew to keep away from accidents and committing fouls in order that we’d have the complete squad out there for the playoffs towards Thailand and Taiwan.
Coach Mai Duc Chung in an interview with VnExpress on the Vietnam Soccer Federation headquarters in Hanoi on February 10, 2022. Picture by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
In India, you talked about the potential for pulling out of the event after many gamers acquired Covid. Please inform us extra about it.
It’s true I requested the Vietnam Soccer Federation (VFF) to withdraw from the event as a result of the state of affairs at that second was actually robust. 16 gamers who have been contaminated needed to keep in Spain, whereas solely six gamers may go to India and simply three of them have been match. The event’s rules mentioned if we didn’t have 13 gamers registered for a recreation we have been out.
At the moment I used to be actually fearful. We needed to preserve monitor of the gamers in Spain continually. When 12 gamers examined destructive, I advised them to fly to India straight away. After I picked them up on the airport, I used to be extraordinarily completely satisfied and hugged them like a father hugs his youngsters.
That was most likely the hardest time in my teaching profession. Covid-19 was devastating because it precipitated unprecedented personnel problem for the crew. It’s lucky that the gamers have been contaminated earlier than and never throughout the event.
How did you cope with the group stage, when Vietnam confronted the 2 strongest groups in Asia, Japan and South Korea, and a troublesome opponent in Southeast Asia, Myanmar?
Earlier than the event began I did marvel why Vietnam have been in such a difficult group. However once I regarded nearer, I may see that there was nonetheless a World Cup qualification likelihood since there have been slots within the quarterfinals and the playoffs for one of the best third-placed groups. So I advised the gamers to maintain calm since we didn’t know what lay forward.
Within the first two video games within the group stage towards South Korea and Japan, it was arduous. I don’t wish to sound pessimistic however these opponents are on a special degree. Even with the strongest squad, Vietnam can not beat them. Due to this fact, I advised the gamers to reduce the harm as a lot as attainable and attempt to concede lower than three objectives. I thought of these video games as a warm-up for gamers who had simply recovered from Covid.
How does your spouse really feel when you’re away from house?
She fully helps me as a result of she is aware of I’m devoted to my job. She simply tells me to remain wholesome in no matter I’m doing. I do know she has had onerous instances as a result of I’ve been away from house since I used to be younger and she or he needed to handle the youngsters by herself. However due to the monetary state of affairs, I’ve to work to offer for my household.
Coach Mai Duc Chung (sixth from L) and his household. Picture by Huy Minh
Has your spouse ever advised you to retire when she noticed how a lot strain you have been coping with?
After all. She advised me whether it is an excessive amount of strain then I ought to retire as a result of that may have an effect on my well being. However I do know just one job, that of a soccer coach, and so I’m attempting to do that so long as I can. Apart from, I’m not busy on a regular basis, and I do have breaks when there are not any tournaments.
I do not thoughts the strain as a result of I’ve been within the recreation for a very long time. My coronary heart, my reminiscence and my thoughts are good. I could also be previous and my well being is inferior to earlier than, however I nonetheless can get the job finished. I nonetheless practice on the area with the gamers, possibly not as quick as them however my pictures are nonetheless correct.
In India, generally it was actually scorching however generally it was pouring. In case your well being shouldn’t be good, you can’t face up to such circumstances and strain. However as you’ll be able to see, I can stand for 2 hours in sunny climate and not using a drawback.
Why did you determine to not coach the crew on the 2023 Ladies’s World Cup?
That recreation (towards Taiwan) was too necessary and thrilling, and so I felt careworn and wished to take a break. To be trustworthy, I can not say but whether or not I’ll coach the crew on the World Cup or not as a result of it is determined by my well being. One factor is for certain: I’ll coach the crew for the remainder of 2022 due to my contract with the VFF.