Vietnam first to land in Kuala Lumpur, eye better show this time

Chao Khun Thongchai gives his blessings to members of Thailand’s SEA Games men’s football team.

Kuala Lumpur: The Vietnamese football team arrived on Thursday -- the first batch to arrive in Kuala Lumpur for the 29th SEA Games -- all fired up to put up a strong challenge and improve on their bronze medal achievement in their last campaign.

Five-time runners-up Vietnamese, who have never won the coveted SEA Games football gold, are drawn in Group B with Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Timor Leste and the Philippines for company in their campaign.

"Yes, we are in a very strong group and it will not be easy against such opposition. We came here hoping to do our best but it's too early to say anything. I believe every team has an equal chance at the gold medal," said Veitnam coach Nguyen Huu Thang.

"I don't want to predict anything but the first match is always very important. Of course, Vietnam would like to be champions and win the gold medal but so do the other teams.

"Let's just wait and see for the football competition to begin on Aug 14.

The Vietnamese, who won bronze after beating Indonesia 5-0 in the previous Games in Singapore, arrived from Seoul following two friendly matches in their preparation for the 2017 Games.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's sports minister has urged fans not to boo Olympic swimming champion Joseph Schooling at the Southeast Asian Games, after the Singaporean sparked a furore by vowing to "teach [Malaysians] a thing or two".

Schooling, who won Singapore's first gold medal at last year's Rio Olympics, caused controversy with his remarks last week, before insisting he meant no offence.

Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said fans shouldn't give Schooling a rough ride at the event from Aug 19-30 -- and told them to remember that the swimmer's mother is Malaysian.

"No booing, no jeering," he was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times newspaper yesterday.

"That is not what the SEA Games is about. Tensions will run high, cheer for your team but don't jeer others." agencies

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