Tài dreams of V.League after international success
Young star Phan Tuấn Tài will have the opportunity to shine in the national premier league after his outstanding performance at the recent 31st Southeast Asian Games and AFC U23 Asian Cup.
Tài played a key role in Việt Nam’s second SEA Games title, while he was one of the top assisting players at the continental event.
The defender not only defended and assisted well but also scored the tournament’s fastest goal.
His coaches at the 2020 champions Viettel have decided to call him back to compete in V.League 1, although Tài’s on-loan contract with the V.League 2 side Đắk Lắk FC is still valid.
Despite being just 21, Tài is believed to have earned his slot in the Viettel’s starting lineup from July 2.
“The victories from the SEA Games and the achievement at the Asian Cup are strong pushes for me, and I’m confident that I’ll be given a berth in the first team,” Tài said.
Born in 2001 in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk, Tài first showed his football talent as a small boy.
The 11-year-old was captain of the provincial team to compete in the national children’s football championship, and caught the eyes of the Viettel’s scouts, who persuaded his parents to let him practise to be a professional player.
“My teacher tried to convince me to continue academic study because I was a good student. She said I might not catch up with friends and waste my learning if I did not have a good future with football and had to return home,” Tài said.
“But I fell in love with the ball so much, and my parents supported me too, so I made my choice and have never regretted it.”
Tài made his name in the national U17 and U19 squad. At the age of 21, he is now a member of the U23 side, which recently won the AFF U23 Championship and the SEA Games 31 titles before playing successfully at the AFC U23 Cup, which ended last week.
Tài was not the first choice of either coach Đinh Thế Nam for the regional championship and Park Hang-seo for the SEA Games, but whenever he was on the field, he made things happen.
Tài was added to the AFF event after many Vietnamese players suffered from the COVID-19 and could not compete.
He travelled throughout the night from his home town in Đắk Lắk to HCM City and crossed the border to reach Phnom Penh, Cambodia in time. He assisted striker Trần Bảo Toàn to score the only goal of the final match against Thailand in February.
In the SEA Games three months later, he assisted Nhâm Mạnh Dũng in scoring a winner in the final against Thailand to help Việt Nam win the trophy.
Later, at the Asian Cup, under coach Gong Oh-kyun, he scored a goal 18 seconds after the whistle in the group round match against Thailand, making it the third-fastest goal in the tournament’s history.
“I was pleased because it was my first time scoring for the national U23 team. The goal was precious to me,” the left winger said.
He also made two assists for his teammates Vũ Tiến Long and Dũng, making him one of the top assisting players along with Takashi Uchino (Japan) and Firas Al Brikan (Saudi Arabia), Diyor Kholmatov (Uzbekistan), and Abdulridha Ogaili (Iraq).
Combining his scoring and assisting ability, the AFC also honoured him as one of six outstanding players of the tournament.
“I have no secret for my passes. I just think that if I can send the ball high over the heads of all the defenders, it will reach my strikers, and they will complete the task,” said Tài, who was a valedictorian of the Hà Nội University of Physical Education and Sports in 2020.
“I spend much time practising these skills after each training day. I believe that the more I work, the better I can play.”
Tài said he grew stronger after each tournament and hoped the experience from these events would be helpful for the V.League 1 competition.
“I feel more confident match by match after these regional and continental events. But I personally don’t allow myself to rest on the laurels but must work harder,” he said. “I hope I can prove my ability to win a regular berth in Viettel’s starting team first, and then I can contribute more to the national teams.”
Europa League kings Sevilla beat Roma on penalties to win seventh crown
BUDAPEST — Europa League thoroughbreds Sevilla worked their magic yet again to beat AS Roma 4-1 on penalties on Wednesday and lift the trophy for a record-extending seventh time, handing Roma boss Jose Mourinho his first defeat in six European finals.
After an unspectacular match ended 1-1 after extra time, Sevilla ruthlessly punished the Italians in the shootout, with Gonzalo Montiel firing home the winning spot kick, just as he did for Argentina in the World Cup final against France.
The defender had missed his first effort but was handed a reprieve when Roma keeper Rui Patricio was adjudged to have come off the line too early and he made no mistake with his second, sparking jubilant celebrations.
Sevilla keeper Yassine Bounou was their hero in the shootout, saving penalties from Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibanez while the Spaniards were flawless in their own execution, scoring their first four.
|Soccer Football – Europa League – Final – Sevilla v AS Roma – Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary – June 1, 2023 AS Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini looks dejected as he goes to collect his runner-up medal. Photo: Reuters|
Sevilla, the undisputed kings of the Europa League, have now won all seven of the finals they have played in the competition, and are well-versed in the drama of the occasion, having seen their opponents score first in the last four finals.
It was a tense and ill-tempered affair from the start on Wednesday, with Roma defending deep with a five-man backline against Sevilla, who had almost 65% possession but were kept mostly outside the Italian’s crowded box.
The match was tetchy with referee Anthony Taylor dishing out 14 yellow cards, the most ever in a Europa League game, and playing almost 30 minutes of stoppage time in total.
|Soccer Football – Europa League – Final – Sevilla v AS Roma – Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary – June 1, 2023 AS Roma’s Rui Patricio in action during the penalty shoot-out. Photo: Reuters|
Paulo Dybala gave Roma the lead from a counter-attack in the 35th minute but Sevilla then took control of the game and found the equaliser thanks to an own-goal by Mancini in the 55th minute.
Sevilla dominated the match after that but Roma had the better chances from counter-attacks and set-pieces, including a Chris Smalling header that hit the crossbar in the 10th minute of added time in extra time.
|Soccer Football – Europa League – Final – Sevilla v AS Roma – Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary – June 1, 2023 Sevilla players celebrate after winning the Europa League. Photo: Reuters|
Sevilla maintained their incredible record in the competition after an otherwise difficult season.
Languishing in the bottom half of LaLiga for a large part of a campaign in which they fired two managers, Sevilla only rediscovered their form after exiting the Champions League.
Their run to the final saw them beat PSV Eindhoven, Fenerbahce and Manchester United before downing Juventus in the semis.
|Soccer Football – Europa League – Final – Sevilla v AS Roma – Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary – June 1, 2023 Sevilla’s Gonzalo Montiel scores a penalty during the shoot-out to win the Europa League. Photo: Reuters|
“It was a Sevilla-style match. We have to suffer to win,” Lucas Ocampos told Spanish TV channel Movistar Plus.
“This is not easy. What we have with this competition is something that cannot be explained.”
It was the third consecutive Europa League final that ended in a penalty shootout.
|Soccer Football – Europa League – Final – Sevilla v AS Roma – Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary – June 1, 2023 AS Roma’s Andrea Belotti and teammates look dejected after the match. Photo: Reuters|
The win means Sevilla will compete in next season’s Champions League despite finishing outside the top four in the LaLiga.
Mourinho had never lost a European final before Wednesday, having last year led Roma to the inaugural Europa Conference League title, becoming the first coach to win all the European trophies.
|Soccer Football – Europa League – Final – Sevilla v AS Roma – Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary – June 1, 2023 Sevilla players throw coach Jose Mendilibar in the air as they celebrate winning the Europa League. Photo: Reuters|
Losing was clearly a painful experience for the Portuguese who handed his runners-up medal to a fan in the stand after the presentation.
“That’s what I did, I don’t want silver medals. I don’t keep silver medals, so I gave it away,” he told Movistar.
Bolt desperate for impactful role in track and field
Usain Bolt said he is desperate to play a role in reviving the sport that made him a global superstar but has experienced something of a decline since his retirement six years ago.
The Jamaican, who dominated men’s sprinting for nearly a decade after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said he had found plenty to do to keep himself busy but was really keen to remain involved in sport.
“I spend my time doing a lot of family things, when it comes to track and field, not as much as I would want to but I still try and stay in touch with what is going on,” the 36-year-old told Reuters.
“I’m still waiting on a position from (World Athletics), I’ve reached out to them and let them know I would love to make a bigger impact in sports, as long as they want me to.
“We’ve been in talks but we’ll have to wait and see what comes around.”
Bolt added that he was aware his personality was a vital ingredient in the success of track and field during his era but thought he could see signs that athletes like U.S. sprinter Noah Lyles might be starting to fill the charisma gap.
“It’s going to be a process. After me, it kind of went down because of who I was as a person, and how big my personality was,” added the eight-times Olympic gold medallist.
“But I think over time it will be better. I think young athletes are coming up and I see a few personalities that are needed in sport, hopefully in the upcoming years it will change.
“Hopefully I can play a part and help the sport to grow.”
There was disappointment at the crowds for last year’s World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, but Bolt thought that next year’s Paris Olympics could be a special moment for the sport.
“Sometimes it’s all about where it is, America is not the biggest track and field place,” he said.
“I think Paris will be big, because it’s accessible and I know Paris always has a good team and good athletes over the years. So I look forward to that.”
After a decade of Bolt-inspired global dominance, Jamaica’s men have failed to win a single track gold medal at the last two World Championships.
At this year’s championships in Budapest, however, Bolt sees some promise of success in young sprinters Oblique Seville and Ackeem Blake.
“Last year, Seville came fourth (in the 100m) so I was very impressed. Also now there’s a young kid, Ackeem Blake, who is also stepping up. So I think that’s a good start,” the 11-times world champion said.
“Hopefully these two will motivate other youngsters to want to step up, and want to train harder and dedicate themselves.”
Jamaica are still dominant in the women’s sprints and Bolt said he would be keeping a close eye on compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the World Championships in August.
Fraser-Pryce, also 36, will be seeking a record-extending sixth world 100m title in Hungary, 14 years after making her debut in the global showpiece of track and field.
“I follow Shelly a lot because we came through the same era so to see her continue sprinting and coming back from having a child, that’s impressive,” said Bolt.
Vietnam to play int’l football friendly against Syria next month
Vietnam will face Syria in an international friendly next month in preparation for their 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup qualification campaigns, the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) announced on its website on Monday evening.
The Vietnamese national football team, ranked 95th in the FIFA world ranking, will host Syria, in the 90th position, at Thien Truong Stadium in northern Nam Dinh Province on June 20.
They see this as a valuable opportunity to sharpen their skills, considering Syria’s slightly higher global ranking.
The presence of renowned coach Hector Cuper leading the Syrian team also adds to the significance of the occasion.
The seasoned 65-year-old coach previously managed well-known European football clubs such as Valencia, Inter Milan, Real Betis, and Parma.
Prior to taking charge of the Syrian national team, he had coaching stints with national teams such as Egypt, Uzbekistan, and Congo.
Five days before the Syria match, Vietnam will play Hong Kong in another international friendly game, which will also be their first since the appointment of new head coach Philippe Troussier in February, at Lach Tray Stadium in northern Hai Phong City on June 15.
In anticipation of the games in June, the Vietnamese national football team players are scheduled to regroup on June 7.
Previously, the VFF announced that Vietnam will play two more international friendlies in September and October this year before two matches in the 2026 World Cup and 2027 Asian Cup qualifiers, taking place on November 13 and 21, respectively.
Vietnam’s opponents for these matches will be determined following a draw in July.
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