Soccer-Vietnam coach Riedl back to work after kidney transplant

BANGKOK, April 11 (Reuters) - Vietnam coach Alfred Riedl, who underwent a kidney transplant last month, says he is fit and well and has returned to work early.

“Everything is fine -- I’ve started my job already,” the 57-year-old Austrian told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.

“I’m happy because I feel completely normal, just like I did 10 years ago.”

He added: “I had great doctors, the best in Europe, but you’re never sure if your body will accept a new kidney. I’m very lucky.”

Now in his third stint as Vietnam’s national team coach, Riedl was discharged from a Vienna hospital just nine days after the operation and returned to work a week ahead of schedule.

His anonymous donor was a one of scores of Vietnamese soccer fans who offered to go under the knife to ensure the former FC Metz, Standard Liege and Austria Vienna striker was fit enough to keep his job.

Riedl’s popularity soared in Vietnam after he took the country to silver medals in the 1999, 2003 and 2005 South East Asian Games.

His next task is to prepare the team for the Asian Cup, which Vietnam is a co-hosting with Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia from July 7-29.

Vietnam’s group is one of the toughest having been drawn with 2006 World Cup qualifiers Japan, Asian Games gold medallists Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Riedl admitted his team was the group’s weakest but warned they should not be written off.

“We are not in a position to say we will be looking to win this match or draw another,” he said.

“We are playing at home, we have the support, and of course, we will be looking to spring a surprise.”