HÀ NỘI – It’s the dream of many Vietnamese football fans to watch stars like Nguyễn Quang Hải strut their stuff against the best in Europe, but few know that one woman of Vietnamese heritage is already living out that dream.
Vietnamese Australian footballer Alexandra Huynh recently signed for S.S.D. Napoli Femminile in Italy to compete week in and week out against the best Serie A has to offer and harbours dreams of one day playing for the Vietnamese women’s national team.
Huynh arrived in Italy in early October after ending an eight-year spell with the Western Sydney Wanderers, who play in Australia’s top women’s league. Prior to that, Huynh turned out for the Newcastle Jets in Australia as a teenager before playing for Colorado and Troy universities in the US.
While the newly-promoted Napoli are rooted to the bottom of the Serie A table and struggling against better-funded men’s team-affiliated clubs like AC Milan and Juventus, Huynh is enjoying the challenge of playing in the football-mad city that recently mourned the passing of the beloved Diego Maradona.
“Yeah, honestly, on the field. I love it. Like I love how physical it is,” she told Việt Nam News.
“There’s not as much like build-up play in Italy as there is in Australia. But in saying that there’s a lot of like, raw talent here. And there are so many people, so many girls play football, and in Italy, that’s just part of the culture, it’s part of their blood,” she added.
Football brought Huynh to Việt Nam for her only visit in 2011 when she lined up for the Young Matildas Australian women’s U19 team in the AFC U19 Women’s Championship in HCM City, which also served as a qualifying tournament for the 2012 U20 World Cup.
“I think that it was very eye-opening because I’ve obviously never been to Việt Nam before. It was really humbling. It was a really good experience, and I do really want to go back.
“But when you’re 17 I don’t think you really understand the impact of what that trip meant, you know what I mean? So at the time, I was just there to play football, I think I wasn’t really too focused on anything else.
“But looking back, it made me want to learn Vietnamese, you know, maybe want to kind of learn a little bit more about my history,” she said of the trip.
While Huynh hasn’t made the step up to the senior Australia team, she’s excited at the prospect of potentially playing for the up-and-coming Vietnamese team.
“I think it’s very exciting where Vietnamese female footballers are at the moment, I think that they’re at that stage where they really take the next step and ready to be more competitive in the Asian leagues.
“So I think, especially with the World Cup coming in 2023, and an extra Asian team qualifies, it’s a super exciting opportunity.”
The citizenship procedures for a person of Vietnamese heritage to become eligible for the team are daunting, as Czech Vietnamese goalkeeper Filip Nguyen has discovered, and while Huynh recognises that, she’s enthralled by the possibilities of representing Việt Nam.
“I honestly just get goosebumps,” she said when asked what playing for Việt Nam would mean to her.
“I just think that it would make me feel content in a sense. Like, it’s like exploring a part of me that hadn’t really explored before,” she added.
Having been around the top levels of the women’s game in three countries, Huynh knows a thing or two about what Việt Nam need to do to go to the next level and qualify for their first World Cup.
“I think just the biggest thing that separates great programmes from good programmes is just investment. And it comes down to, doesn’t matter what level it’s at, whether it be grassroots or national team, it all just comes down to investment.
“So it’s like how much money are you willing to invest in that team? What resources are you willing to invest, what facilities you’re willing to invest?” she said. VNS
Vietnam to host annual national esports contests
Vietnam Recreational and Electronic Sport Association (VIRESA) plans on launching annual tournaments and publish a white book on the local esports scene.
The association said at a conference earlier this week it would host professional and varsity level tournaments, Vietnam Esports Championship (VEC) and University Esport Championship (UEC), starting this year.
VEC is designed with the purpose of recruiting Vietnamese representatives to compete in international arenas. Teams will have to register online at the tournament’s official website and compete in city and provincial qualifiers before heading to regional and national events. UEC will be open to semi-professional players.
VIRESA has yet to decide which and how many games to include per league, but is considering 10 disciplines, featuring one PlayStation, four computer and five mobile games.
These are: League of Legends: Wild Rift, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile, Arena of Valor, Free Fire, League of Legends, Crossfire, Dota 2, Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA Online 4.
VIRESA further plans to debut an annual white book containing statistics, overall performance data and related content on local esports teams and the industry itself. It will also provide updates on the latest global trends, including a perspective on esports economy, and its digital transformation.
The publication will be designed to help individuals and organizations operate in an effective manner and promote the development of a professional esports environment in Vietnam.
Dang Thai Son, board member of the VIRESA executive committee, said the Vietnamese version of the white book would be officially released on Feb. 1 on the association’s website, while the English version will be released at the end of February.
Vietnam has named esports as one of 40 disciplines of the 31th SEA Games, scheduled to be held from Nov. 21 to Dec. 2 in Hanoi.
The country had the highest number of adult gamers in the world in 2020. Ninety four percent of participants said they gamed at least occasionally while nearly 20 percent said they were frequent gamers, according to a survey released by German data portal Statista late last year.
In a different report, Statista projected online game revenues in the country last year to top $10.1 million, up 16 percent from 2019.
Three Vietnamese women named as elite FIFA referees
The International Football Federation (FIFA) has recognised three local female referees, in addition to three assistant referees, as coming up the standards of its Elite level.
|Referee Bui Thi Thu Trang (third from left) and assistant Ha Thi Phuong (left) officiate at ASIAD 18. (Photo: Myanmar Football)|
This represents the highest level of officiating, with elite FIFA referees being chosen to officiate important events, such as World Cup qualifiers, the AFC Champions League, and the Asian Cup.
The three female referees acknowledged by FIFA include Cong Thi Dung, Bui Thi Thu Trang, and Le Thi Ly, in addition to three assistant referees, such as Truong Thi Le Trinh, Nguyen Thi Hang Nga, and Ha Thi Phuong, all of whom have been recognised by FIFA as making the Elite level.
Among the officials, referees Thi Dung and Thu Trang, in addition to assistants Le Trinh and Thi Phuong, have plenty of experience after being in charge of matches at the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan in 2016, in addition to the 18th Asian Games (ASIAD 18) held in Indonesia.
According to Duong Van Hien, head of the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) arbitration committee, the 2023 World Cup will provide a good chance for Vietnamese referees and assistants to prove themselves at a prestigious global tournament. VOV
Thanh Hóa ready for V.League 1 under coach Ljupko Petrovic
HÀ NỘI — Ljupko Petrovic, who won the European Cup with Red Star Belgrade in 1991, has vowed to bring Thanh Hóa back to the top of V.League 1 this season.
The Serbian coach led Thanh Hóa to the second place of the national premiere league in 2017, the highest league position in the club’s history. However, after a disagreement with the club owner, his contract was not extended.
Last year, Thanh Hóa finished third in the group of relegation. While in 2019 V.League 1, Thanh Hóa scored a league record by employing three consecutive coaches in one season. They parted ways with Spanish coach Fabio Lopez, then replaced coach Nguyễn Thành Công with another domestic manager, Mai Xuân Hợp.
Now the 73-year-old has returned to Thanh Hóa under president Cao Tiến Đoan and has insisted that he is ready to lead Thanh Hóa back to their golden age.
“I don’t know how much the possibility of Thanh Hóa club ranking one, three or four will be this year,” said Petrovic. “However, I believe a spot in the top six is fine. The whole team must do their best to do that this year. Next year, we are definitely aiming for the top three in the league.
“Earlier, Thanh Hóa had many better players to play. Now, I don’t have such people in the squad. However, the team have many young talents and are improving day by day. I can use them in the future. I am glad that the talented youngsters are an asset to the team.”
The coach wants his players to play fast, one touch football.
He added: “I want to speed up working together with the hard working of people at the club. Vietnamese players are hard-working and have a good spirit. After one or two years, many good players will appear here. Their level will be similar with players in Europe. I believe I can do that.”
According to Petrovic, Thanh Hóa are still a strong team. This year, he wants better performances and a higher finish. Next year he is setting his sights on Asian tournaments.
Petrovic started his coaching career in 1982. He used to manage many famous clubs like Spain’s RCD Espanyol, Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade, and Greece’s Olympiakos. Petrovic’s biggest achievement was to coach Red Star to European Cup victory in 1991 before the tournament changed its name to UEFA Champions League in 1992.
To prepare for the new season, Thanh Hóa kept key players such as midfielder Loius Epassi, naturalised striker Hoàng Vũ Samson, midfielder Lê Phạm Thành Long, goalkeeper Nguyễn Thanh Diệp, captain Hoàng Đình Tùng as well as bringing in many quality players such as Brazilian midfielder Paulo Pinto, midfielder Lê Quốc Phương, defender Doãn Ngọc Tân, Jamaican striker Chevaughn Walsh.
Thanh Hóa contribute two players for the national team including midfielder Nguyễn Minh Tùng and defender Vũ Xuân Cường. They have one player, goalkeeper Trịnh Xuân Hoàng, in the national U22 team.
This year will see plenty of opportunities for the younger players to break into the first team. Attention will also be paid to the club’s youth teams. —
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