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By ESPN Staff

Calisto tipped to take over as Vietnam coach

BANGKOK, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Portuguese coach Henrique Calisto has emerged as the leading candidate to take over Vietnam's struggling national team, according to local media reports.

Calisto, who coaches Vietnamese club Dong Tam Long An, is backed by the country's sports ministry and is favourite to succeed Austrian Alfred Riedl, who quit after Vietnam's embarrassing Southeast Asian (SEA) Games exit, reports said.

Calisto has already said he was interested in the post and told the Vietnam News Agency: 'I believe after seven years working in Vietnam, my knowledge and experience is invaluable.'

Soccer federation chairman Nguyen Trong Hy told local media that Vietnam was looking for a foreign coach, although those considered so far had asked for too much money.

A senior federation official told Reuters on Monday that several candidates were being considered but a decision was yet to taken.

In July, Vietnam had their highest Asian Cup finish in 50 years after reaching the quarter-finals, where they lost to eventual champions Iraq.

But they hit rock bottom just a few months later when they were knocked out in the preliminary rounds of 2010 World Cup qualifiers and lost to minnow Myanmar in the semi-finals of the SEA Games.

Riedl, who was hugely popular in Vietnam, quit afterwards, saying the country's communist rulers had pressured the soccer federation to get rid of him.