Viet Nam will take part in the 10th Asian Karate Federation Senior, Junior and Cadet Championships in Guangzhou, China, without kata queen Nguyen Hoang Ngan who is still in Japan recovering from surgery.
The former Kobe Osaka International World Cup champion suffered a broken knee during the world championships in Serbia last November, and flew to Japan for an operation that has sidelined her until the end of the year. She is unlikely to compete at the 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Indonesia, scheduled to start this November.
Without their star performer, Viet Nam will face an uphill challenge to win gold medals in the kata (performance) events at the regional tournament, for which Ngan was one of the favourites.
Do Thi Thu Ha, who won a gold medal in the team event at the 25th SEA Games, has been called up to replace Ngan.
Ha will perform in both the individual category and team event, where she will join seniors Nguyen Thanh Hang and Nguyen Thi Hang.
On the kumite (combat) side, Viet Nam are a force to be reckoned with, and there are high hopes of medals in all disciplines.
Asian Games champion Le Bich Phuong and SEA Games defending champions Vu Thi Nguyet Anh and Bui Thi Trieu make up a strong women's team.
Nguyen Hoang Hiep, Nguyen Minh Phung and Nguyen Quang Phuc will be competing for the men's crowns.
Viet Nam are likely to face strong competition from Japan, China and Kazakhstan, but hope to win at least one gold medal.
The tournament, which runs from July 16-25, will be important preparation for the team ahead of the SEA Games in Indonesia.
In the previous tournament also in Guangzhou, Viet Nam finished fourth with three silver and two bronze medals.
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