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The Local Game: The bar has been raised

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Nguyễn Quang Hải is playing at a higher level than any of his Vietnamese teammates. Photo qdnd.vn

Peter Cowan

It may be hard to believe, but this international break is the final one before the 2022 World Cup.

It feels like a lifetime ago that the Việt Nam national team stood just a few improbably victories away from booking their ticket to Qatar.

It was always unlikely, but there is a parallel world in which this week we’d have been debating the battle for the last couple of spots in coach Park Hang-seo’s squad instead of gearing up for a pair of humdrum friendlies against Singapore and India.

While we’re still left to daydream about playing in a World Cup, the fact that it was closer to a reality than ever before shows how far Vietnamese football has come.

The bar has been raised, which should change things as Việt Nam prepare for their next competitive fixtures at the AFF Championship later this year.

The competition plays something of an outsize role in Southeast Asian football as a biannual opportunity for both bragging rights and silverware for nations that otherwise have little chance of the latter.

That outsize role is why in recent days, several Vietnamese language news outlets have speculated on whether Nguyễn Quang Hải will play a role in the upcoming tournament.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Hải is on the books of Pau FC in France’s Ligue 2, making him the only member of the national team playing abroad and at a higher level than the V.League 1.

As the AFF Championship is not part of the FIFA calendar, Pau FC are not obliged to release Hải to compete in the tournament, whereas they must let him come play the two friendlies over the next week.

Much of the speculation I’ve seen has focused on whether Park will be able to call upon Hải for the regional tournament by somehow persuading Pau to let him go, but I think the more pertinent question is this: what’s best for Hải?

While the pint-sized playmaker has not yet established himself as a regular starter for Pau, he makes pretty much every match day squad and regularly comes on as a sub.

This shows he has begun carving out a role for himself and is no mere commercial signing (unlike previous Vietnamese stars in Europe), as given how poorly Pau have started the season, manager Didier Tholot has no room for passengers.

Pau have no less than four fixtures during the AFF Championship, wouldn’t it be better for Hải and the future of Vietnamese football as a whole if he played a key role in those matches, rather than playing a tournament that is pretty short on quality?

Besides that, shouldn’t Việt Nam be aiming higher than regional glory? As mentioned above, the bar has been raised.

If Park, the VFF and football fans around the country really want Hải to succeed in Europe, and Vietnamese football to kick on, there shouldn’t be any pressure on him to be back in Việt Nam later this year. VNS

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/entertainment/the-local-game-the-bar-has-been-raised_337434.html

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National squad must ‘continue to improve’ despite recent success

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Coach Park believes the national side still needs to improve before the AFF Cup 2022. VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Linh 

HCM CITY — Despite victories against Singapore and India in the friendly international tournament, head coach Park Hang Seo believes there is still much room for improvement in the national side, especially if they are to make a mark at the AFF Cup 2022 in December.

On Tuesday, Việt Nam beat India 3-0 in the final game of the international friendly tournament at Thống Nhất Stadium, HCM City, finishing the tournament as champions.

The win means that Việt Nam beat every opponent in the tournament without conceding a goal. 

Unlike the previous match against Singapore, coach Park fielded his strongest squad against India. 

The South Korean coach made ten changes to the starting lineup, with Quang Hải, Công Phượnng, and Văn Đức, Văn Hậu all starting. 

“I wanted to take advantage of this friendly tournament to give new players an opportunity to play while improving the whole team’s tactics,” coach Park said after the game. 

“But, against India today, I wanted to evaluate the quality of the core players in the squad. That’s why I made those changes. 

“The players played well in both matches but I still need more time to adjust, and check for more options. There is still a long way to go until the AFF Cup, so the team must continue to improve until then.”

In the match against India, the home team took control from the kickoff, pressing the Indian side back.

In the 10th minute, from a Công Phượng corner kick, India’s goalkeeper Sandhu punched the ball straight towards Văn Đức in the penalty area.

The striker took the ball on the volley to open the scoring for the hosts. Settled, Việt Nam played more controlled and patient play.

In the last minutes of the first half, the visitors had opportunities to equalise, but goalkeeper Văn Lâm and the defenders kept them at bay.

In the second half, Văn Toàn replaced Công Phượng, and it took just four minutes for Toàn to have an impact.  

Toàn’s speed helped him take advantage of Anwar Ali’s mistake in his own half. Stealing the ball, he went one-on-one with Sandhu and neatly slipped the ball past him and into the gaping goal, his first goal for the national side since a game against Afghanistan in the Asian Cup qualifying round in March 2017. 

In the 72nd minute, Bùi Hoàng Việt Anh crossed the ball from the right wing. Văn Quyết took two touches, one to control the other and the other to fire it into the back of the net. 

The hosts finished the tournament with seven goals scored, and three conceded. VNS 

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/sports/national-squad-must-continue-to-improve-despite-recent-success_337686.html

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Speed skaters win golds in first int’l event

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Speed Skating

The Vietnamese team poses for photos after the end of the Indonesian National Speed Skating Championship which closed on September 22. Việt Nam won five golds, four silvers and two bronzes. — Photo of VSF

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam won five gold medals after being invited to compete at the Indonesian National Speed Skating Championship, which closed on September 22.

Giang Bảo Anh was the most successful athlete, winning a hattrick of titles in the women’s F Group’s 222m, 333m and 500m categories.

Nguyễn Phi Long secured a gold in the men’s junior Group C 500m class and two silvers in the 1000m and 1500m tracks.

Lê Hữu Dũng pocketed his title in the men’s senior 1500m and two bronzes in the 500m and 1000m. 

Another medalist of Việt Nam was Nguyễn Võ Hữu Vinh with two silvers in the men’s senior 1000m and 1500m.

Giang Bảo Trang, who was expected to be in top three in three classes in the women’s junior Group E, unexpectedly suffered a leg injury during her training prior to the competition. She was sidelined.

In addition to their medals, athletes also collected points for the next Winter Olympics. With a gold, they bagged 34 points, and 21 and 13 for silver and bronze, respectively.

The Indonesian championship was the first ever international tournament that a Vietnamese delegation took part in.

According to Trịnh Thị Trang, general secretary of the Việt Nam Skating Federation (VSF), Indonesia invited athletes from other countries to its championship to improve the quality of the tournament and also to give all competitors chances to sharpen their skills.

Việt Nam sent five athletes to Indonesia. It was their first event abroad and their result was much better than expected, she said. — VNS

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/sports/speed-skaters-win-golds-in-first-intl-event_337570.html

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Liêm through to Julius Baer Generation Cup’s semi-final

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Chess

GM Lê Quang Liêm sails into the semis of the Julius Baer Generation Cup on September 22. — Photo đuyenangvietnam.net

HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese Grandmaster (GM) Lê Quang Liêm advanced to the semi-finals of the online Julius Baer Generation Cup on September 22.

Liêm knocked 19-year-old phenomenon Hans Niemann of the US out after four rapid chess matches in the quarter-final round.

A former world blitz chess champion, Liêm grabbed two wins, one draw and one loss against Niemann, who recently won twice over world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen.

It is his third time beating the American GM Niemann. Liêm overcame him in the group round match several days ago and at the FTX Crypto Cup last month.

Lê Quang Liêm of Việt Nam (left) seen during the online Julius Baer Generation Cup’s quarter-final match against Hans Niemann of the US on September 22. — Photo chess24.com

With this result, Liêm proved he belonged in the top four in competitions, including the Charity Cup (No. 4), Oslo Esports Cup (No. 2), Prague Masters (No. 2), Biel Chess International (champion) and FTX Crypto Cup (No. 4), that he has taken part in since March. 

In the semi-final, 31-year-old Liêm will face Indian GM Arjun Erigaisi. The national champion beat Christopher Yoo of the US in the tie-break after their matches ended 2-2.

Erigaisi, 19, defeated Liêm in the group round earlier this week.

In the other semis, GM Carlsen of Norway will play GM Vincent Keymer from Germany. — VNS

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/sports/liem-through-to-julius-baer-generation-cups-semi-final_337568.html

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