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The Local Game: What we learned from Việt Nam’s two defeats




Nguyễn Hoàng Đức has shown that he can mix it with the best Asia has to offer. Photo

Peter Cowan

“The greatest teacher, failure is,” a wise man once said.

Okay, Yoda wasn’t so much a wise man as a wise fictional alien, but the vertically challenged green Jedi did have a point.

The Việt Nam national team failed to take anything from their first two matches in the third round of World Cup qualification, and while calling the two performances failures would be awfully harsh, we did learn an awful lot about the team.

The V.League 1 matters

When the 2021 V.League 1 season was scrapped for good in July I said it might end up benefitting coach Park Hang-seo as it gave him the chance to keep his players in an extended training camp.

However, it seems I underestimated how important playing competitive football actually is for professional footballers. Who’d have thought it?

By the end of the Australia match it was clear that the Vietnamese players were struggling physically and I think it’s obvious that not having kicked a ball in anger for months played a role.

There’s no substitute for playing competitive matches where the result matters, and playing the U22 team just isn’t going to cut it.

The powers that be agree seemingly as there have been reports Việt Nam will try to arrange an international friendly ahead of October’s next two qualifiers, which is better than nothing, but still pales in comparison to the value of regular club football.

 Đức is the real deal

I could take a bit of a victory lap here as I said a while ago Nguyễn Hoàng Đức was going to be a star but really, it didn’t take a genius to figure that out, you just had to watch him for a match or two.

He was immense against both Saudi Arabia and Australia and cemented his place as Việt Nam’s best midfielder outside of Nguyễn Quang Hải in my book.

Đức can pass, create, dribble and is surprisingly strong. He proved against both Saudi Arabia and Australia that he can more than hold his own at a more physically demanding level of football than the V.League 1.

No wonder then that apparently three South Korean clubs and one Thai team are interested in signing him, but they may face an uphill battle to secure his signature. has reported that Đức’s youth contract at Viettel runs until 2024, which would make him 26 when it expires, not exactly youthful in a footballing sense.

Here’s hoping he gets the chance to make a move abroad and an exorbitant price tag doesn’t hinder his development, as has happened to other national team stars.

VN belong at this level

Despite losing twice, Việt Nam never looked outclassed.

They led for a majority of the match against Saudi Arabia and could have taken all three points without the red card, though I do think they would have eventually conceded considering the pressure the Saudis were exerting.

The Australia match was also competitive and Việt Nam certainly had a couple of opportunities to snatch a point, despite pre-match fears the Socceroos would lay down a thumping.

So while zero points from two matches doesn’t look good on paper, there’s plenty of cause for optimism, as this Vietnamese team clearly belongs at this level of football.



National squad must ‘continue to improve’ despite recent success



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 


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Speed skaters win golds in first int’l event



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


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




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

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

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


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