Vietnam coach Park targets rise to FIFA top 100, Asian Cup success
New head coach Park Hang-Seo is targeting a place in the world's top 100 as he gets to work with the Vietnam national team this week.
The South Korean, who was assistant to Guus Hiddink during his country's run to the 2002 World Cup semifinals, takes over a team on the brink of qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, following a resounding 5-0 win over Cambodia on Tuesday.
Vietnam are 130th in the FIFA world rankings, but Park believes that a place among the top 100 is within reach.
Already, they are above Thailand (137th), Singapore (162nd) and Malaysia (164th), but getting into double figures would see them rise above the likes of Philippines (123rd) and India (107th)
"I am only just getting to know the Vietnamese side and I don't have much information yet," said Park, as quoted in Vietnam News. "However, after seeing how they performed against Cambodia, I knew there are similarities between me and the team in terms of playing style.
"Vietnam are No. 130 in the world and I hope during my term here, I can propel them into the top 100."
Park has signed a two-year contract. It will see him in charge for next year's AFF Suzuki Cup and also for the 2019 Asian Cup -- if he can secure a home win over Afghanistan next month.
The 58-year-old says he is not planning a radical overhaul for the game on Nov. 14. He will stick with the players who have taken them this far, as he takes time to implement his vision.
"I do not have much time to prepare for that game," said Park. "I will select a team based on the recent list.
"Under my charge, Vietnam's playing style will be a combination of their strong points and new things they learn from me. I believe it is important to improve training activities and develop young talent.
"I will ask the federation to summon the players sooner, so that they can practise more with each other."
Park also takes charge of Vietnam's under-23 team, and he will aim to lift their spirits after a very promising SEA Games' campaign ended in bitter disappointment in August.
The young Vietnamese side failed to make the semifinals, prompting the resignation of Park's predecessor, Nguyen Huru Thang.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK