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Brazil expect Neymar to carry on in World Cup despite ankle injury



Brazilian striker Neymar should be fine to continue in the World Cup despite limping off with a swollen ankle during his team’s 2-0 victory over Serbia on Thursday, coach Tite said.

“We are confident that Neymar will continue playing, he will continue playing in the World Cup,” Tite told reporters, confessing that he was initially unaware of his striker’s injury.

“I didn’t see Neymar was hurt. And he had the capacity to overcome this, he even tricked me.”

Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said Brazil would wait 24-48 hours before assessing Neymar’s injury.

The Paris St Germain striker, the most expensive player in the world following his record 222 million-euro ($231 million) transfer from Barcelona, played a pivotal role in Brazil’s win in their first game in Group G in Qatar.

He wriggled into the box to pass to Vinicius Jr. to set up Richarlison for Brazil’s opening goal in the second half.

Later, however, he appeared to be in tears as he left the pitch with a visibly swollen ankle.

That was reminiscent of the back injury which put Neymar out of the World Cup on home soil in 2014.

Match winner Richarlison, who scored a spectacular swivelling overhead volley for Brazil’s second goal, said he had spoken to his team mate to check on his injury.

“It seems he has a hurt ankle and I told him to put a lot of ice on it to recover as soon as possible to have him 100% at the next match. When I get to the hotel, I’m going to go and see how he’s doing,” he said.

Richarlison has now scored nine goals in his last seven games for Brazil and is oozing confidence.

“As our professor Tite has said ‘I am smelling goals’!” he said. “At half time, I told my colleagues I needed a ball and if I got it, I would score. And that’s what happened.

“We had a beautiful victory and now we have another six games to reach our goal.”



Drama plays mark 50 years of partnership between Việt Nam and France



TALENTED THESPIAN – Young actress Lê Chi Na (left) plays a lead role in ‘Eugénie Grandet’ in the Vietnamese adaptation of Honoré de Balzac’s novel. Photo courtesy of the theatre.

HCM CITY — Young artists of the Hồng Hạc Drama Troupe are working on a series of new plays to mark 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between Việt Nam and France.

The highlight is an experimental play on money and love adapted from Honoré de Balzac’s novel Eugénie Grandet.

The Vietnamese play adapted from Eugénie Grandet was written by female director Việt Linh, who is talented and well-known in both theatre and movies.

Linh worked with her younger colleague, theatre director Tây Phong on the play script.

The play is about a wealthy but miserly Felix Grandet whose deeds lead to tragedy for his daughter Eugénie and himself.

“I believe Vietnamese versions of French theatrical plays will offer something new and interesting for audiences, particularly the youth,” said director Phong in an interview with local media. 

“Balzac released Eugénie Grandet in 1839 but it has modern content. The play’s message is about the hypocrisy and shallowness of wealthy people and how money controls their lives.”

Phong has worked with theatre designers to perfect his production with costumes, choreography, music, lighting and visual effects.

He has cast young artists Lê Chi Na, Thanh Tuấn, Lương Mỹ and Hồng Đào to play leading roles.

Phong said he believes in his staff because “new and young faces leave stronger impressions on audiences. I want to bring a fresh breeze into Vietnamese drama.”

FRENCH CLASSIC: Young artists of the private Hồng Hạc Drama Troupe will act in a Vietnamese adaptation of ‘Eugénie Grandet’. The play marks 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between Việt Nam and France. Photo courtesy of the theatre.

Other new plays adapted from works of French writers Catherine Arley and Marc Levy are also running and scheduled to debut in April.

The private Hồng Hạc Drama Troupe was established in 2015. Its owners, Linh and theatre director Phạm Hoàng Nam, and young actors have worked hard to offer experimental shows with new concepts and techniques.

The Vietnamese adaptation of Eugénie Grandet will be staged on Sundays starting March 19 at the Thanh Niên Theatre, 4 Phạm Ngọc Thạch Street, District 1. — VNS


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Hải returns to ring after five-year lay-off to fight for WBA belt




Nguyễn Ngọc Hải (right) is returning to professional boxing and will be fighting for his first international belt on March 25 in HCM City. Photo of LEAD 

Thanh Hà

HÀ NỘI — Nguyễn Ngọc Hải never imagined that what began as a way to stay fit at 19 years old would lead to him competing for an international boxing title.

Yet, that dream is now a reality as the 30-year-old prepares to face off against Campee Phayom of Thailand over ten rounds for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) Asia South super lightweight belt in HCM City today.

If he wins, he will be the fifth Vietnamese boxer to win an international belt, further establishing Việt Nam as a recognised international boxing hub of the world. 

This will be Hải’s first time in the ring as a professional in five years, having hung up his gloves in 2018 to provide for his young family. 

Late starter

Hải only started boxing when he was 19 at the suggestion of his brother. 

“I went to the gym two or three times a week, just to be fit,” Hải told Việt Nam News. “A year and a half later, I joined a tournament in HCM City in 2013, which was my first competition ever.”

Nguyễn Ngọc Hải (right) training ahead of his WBA Asia South super lightweight title fight on March 25 in HCM City. — Photo of LEAD 

Although Hải didn’t take win anything at the tournament, his raw talent was noticed by a coach from the HCM City Boxing Federation. Later that year, he invited him to represent the city at the national championships.

Hải rewarded that faith with success, winning silver at the championships.

“I was happy when I received the invitation to fight for HCM City,” said Hải, who said it was a watershed moment in his life. “To me, having a chance to box was a big gift. A silver made me feel extremely excited.”

Five years later, Hải established himself as a top contender, winning one gold, four silvers and two bronzes at local competitions.

He had also made the leap to professional boxing with an undefeated record of four wins (three knockouts) and three draws.

However, despite his career flying high, Hải had started a family and struggled to make ends meet through boxing.

In 2018, he stepped away from boxing to provide for his family, though he still helped train others at the gym.  

Four years later, with his family finances more stable, he is returning to the ring once again. 

“I come back because I still love boxing a lot,” said 30-year-old Hải. “It is a beautiful sport in all terms of technique, the form of competing and even the clothes.”

“Although I did not box anymore, I kept working as a boxing trainer. With my strong fitness and experience, I met with no difficulties when I stepped back into the ring myself.”

Hải secured a bronze at the National Boxing Clubs Cup just weeks after his return.

His career achievement was enough for him to receive an opportunity to vie for the WBA Asia South belt.

Challenge but confidence

However, Campee Phayom won’t be a walk in the park – he is strong and has more experienced than Hải.

The Thai is 25 years old and has boxed professionally for more than seven years. He has a professional record of 22 wins (14 KOs), two draws and five losses (4 KOs).

Nguyễn Ngọc Hải is confident of a win, despite the strength and experience of his Thai rival Campee Phayom. — Photo of LEAD 

For a long time, Phayom was seen as a boxing prodigy in Thailand.

At 19, he won a local professional title in the super lightweight class.

He had three title fights, the 2020 WBA Asia super featherweight title, the 2020 WBA Asia South super featherweight title and the 2019 WBA Asia South super featherweight, winning the final two.

He is 2-1 in his last three fights, but Hải is unfazed. 

“My coaching board and I have watched his videos,” said Hải. “Yes, he is really strong. He has competed much more than me. On my side, it is my first belt match, but I have had 12 years of boxing experience, and I know how to punch when the time comes.”

“I have trained well with coaches for a long time in preparation for this match. I am confident in my defence ability and will show off my best in the ring.

“Another advantage for me in this match is home supporters, my family and friends. Their cheering will strengthen my power.

“Definitely, I will fight well and win,” said unbeaten Hải, who will have to compete in 10 rounds.

Hải’s match is one of three belt fights of the LEAD: Born to Lead pro boxing event held by Shadow Entertainment at the Sài Gòn Sports Club in District 7, HCM City. VNS



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Việt Nam to rise up stronger after loss: Troussier





Huỳnh Công Đến of Việt Nam (2nd right) tries to steal a ball from defender Ali Basem Almosawe of Iraq during their match at the Doha Cup in Qatar on March 23. Việt Nam lost 3-0. Photo of VFF

HÀ NỘI — In a disappointing start for Philippe Troussier as head coach of the Việt Nam U23 team, the squad suffered a 3-0 loss to Iraq in their first match at the Doha Cup in Qatar.

Despite the setback, Troussier saw the match as a valuable lesson for the players, who he believes will improve in the future.

Việt Nam faced adversity early on in the game, as defender Vũ Tiến Long received a red card in the 22nd minute for a challenge that resulted in Nihad Qwaid falling in the box.

The red card forced Troussier to adjust his line-up, but his side went behind just before halftime. 

Hussein Lawend went down in the box, and Iraq were given a penalty. Ali Basem Almosawe converted from 12 yards out.

The break time did not help Việt Nam as they conceded two more goals, in the 60th minute by Ahmed Hassan and 85th by Dhulfiqar Al Imari.

In the 89th minute, Võ Hoàng Minh Khoa received a second yellow card and was also sent off.

Speaking to reporters after the match, Troussier said it was an unexpected result for Việt Nam.

However, he found some good points in the youngsters’ performance.

“Our performance in the first 20 minutes was not bad, said Troussier. “But the defenders made a mistake leading to a red card. My team was not confident with 10 men.”

“But we come here to make mistakes, fix them and progress. We can’t wait to play the second match to show our better performance.”

Asked about two red cards for Việt Nam, the French coach said the referee was right in all his decisions.

“I emphasise that through this tournament, especially this match, players have had good opportunities to learn and gain experience,” he said. “Of course, we will have to pay for the lessons we learn here. We will analyse the match and move forward to the next matches.”

He added that the Doha Cup is a test for the 32nd SEA Games. Participating teams here were all strong and it is impossible to avoid mistakes. He hopes it will make his team stronger.

Speaking with reporters after the game, goalkeeper Quan Văn Chuẩn said his teammates managed the ball well but delivered too many inaccurate passes. 

“Playing with one player less than Iraq, we met difficulty in connecting each other and could not provide balls to the front line,”  he said. “It was really difficult to open attacks.”

Việt Nam, currently at the bottom of the ranking, will play the UAE on March 26.

After two matches, organisers will arrange the next fixture based on the teams’ results. VNS



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