“Joy is short-lived and challenges are approaching. The teams that we will face in the final round are one level ahead of us,” Park told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency Wednesday.
Vietnam made a historic advance to the final round of 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers despite losing to the UAE on Tuesday. Park didn’t coach the team in that game due to suspension.
“Australia beat Jordan 1-0 when Vietnam were still playing UAE. At the time, Vietnam’s advance was confirmed, so I was able to watch the game on the stand with confidence. We were conceding a lot, but in the second half the players performed better, so it was comforting to see. I wasn’t too excited although we advanced, because we lost the match.”
Park stayed humble about Vietnam’s goals in the final qualifying round.
“I already talked to the players. There is a big difference between the level of the final round and the second round. I know because I have been through it. There will be a lot of challenges, but I’ll try. It will be a valuable experience for the players to compete against Asia’s top teams.”
About the possibility of facing South Korea, his home country, Park said: “It’ll be better not to meet South Korea. It’s burdensome for me, because in terms of level and FIFA rankings, we cannot compete with them. But if we do, it will be a challenge and an honor for the team.”
In the press conference after the game with Malaysia last Friday, many misunderstood Park saying “that”s all there is to do in Vietnam.”
“Advancing to the final round of World Cup qualifiers was my biggest goal. What I meant to say was that I achieved it. My contract is until January next year and I want to fulfill it,” he explained.
Park also commented on the current state of Vietnamese football.
“It still needs improvement. Our team can use a nutritionist. We need more experts to run the national team. Ultimately, it’s a financial issue. But Vietnam is a country of football lovers, and its economy is developing rapidly, so football quality will also improve. Another advantage of Vietnamese football is that it has a willingness to listen and learn new things.”
Vietnam will play the final round of World Cup qualifiers between Sept. 2, 2021 and March 29, 2022.