Park’s concern springs from the fact match-fixing is rife in Southeast Asia.
He told VnExpress: “I have heard about the ‘dark groups’ in Southeast Asia which often try to fix matches in the AFF Championship. It’s dangerous, isn’t it?”
In recent years many footballers in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia have been banned for involvement in sport betting.
At the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, seven Vietnamese football players, including rising talents, were caught throwing one match. One player was sentenced to four years in jail and the others received suspended sentences.
Nine years later several players from Ninh Binh Football Club were banned for betting on the Asian Football Confederation Cup.
But Park expressed confidence in his players.
“I believe our current generation of players is well educated, they have sufficient knowledge to understand the serious consequences they would face from match-fixing.”
He feels more at ease after the Vietnam Football Federation outlined strategies to prevent betting groups from approaching players.
Security guards are assigned to the national team at all times. Besides, the federation collaborates with companies that monitor the sport-betting market to detect any unusual matches.
Vietnam's football coach Park Hang-seo has helped the national team win a silver medal in the U23 AFC Cup and reach the Asian Games semifinals. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Park is also concerned about complacency ahead of the event.
“Why do the media and football fans regard Thailand as our only worthy opponent in the AFF Championship? How about Malaysia and Indonesia? On what basis can we be sure our team will easily make it to the semi-final?”
It is irrational to rate Vietnam higher than Malaysia and Indonesia, who defeated them in the semi-finals in 2014 and 2016, he said.
“I don’t have much experience with Southeast Asian football. This is my first AFF Championship. So things are not going to be easy.”
Vietnam are currently training in South Korea, and Park will name the players for the AFF Championship when the team returns on October 30.
The event will be played from November 8 to December 15, with 10 teams from Southeast Asia taking part.
Vietnam are in Group A with Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, and open their campaign against Laos on November 8.