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The Local Game: When opportunity knocks

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Yaya Toure back when he dominated the Premier League with Manchester City. — AFP Photo

Peter Cowan

Opportunity knocks but once, or so the saying goes, but not it seems for V.League 1 clubs, who by some accounts have spurned two great opportunities in recent weeks.

Yaya Toure and Yohan Cabaye were both linked with moves to the V.League 1 recently but neither has ended up in Viet Nam, with Toure taking a coaching role in Ukraine and Cabaye (who has Vietnamese heritage) retiring.

Either one would have been a blockbuster signing for Vietnamese football, but Toure, in particular, would have been a true marquee arrival, as a player, coach or a combination of the two.

Now, at this point, the cynical among you may ask how likely it ever really was that a Premier League, La Liga, Champions League and Africa Cup of Nations winner was going to strut his stuff in the V.League 1? Can clubs over here really afford to pay the wages a player like Yaya Toure can command? And wouldn’t the money be better spent on long-term development rather than a flashy signing?

I planned on writing this column as a debate on the merits of a V.League 1 club signing a player like Yaya Toure, but after just a little scratching beneath the surface, it seemed less and less like much of a debate.

As it turns out, Toure was ready to take up to a 90 per cent cut in his wages to play in Southeast Asia after falling in love with the idea of playing in the region, according to Richard Harcus, CEO of Harcus Consultancy Group, which represents Toure in Southeast Asia.

Richard told me at one stage there was serious interest from a club in Viet Nam to the point he thought it was “as good as a done deal”, but communication from the Vietnamese team simply ceased and Toure moved on to begin his coaching career in Ukraine.

To say Richard was disappointed the deal didn’t come to be would be putting it mildly, as he thinks having a player like Yaya Toure in the V.League 1 would open up endless possibilities for the league thanks to the worldwide attention a player of his calibre brings, the increased fan interest and new sponsorship opportunities, to name a few benefits.

It’s hard to argue with Richard on those points and I certainly know my friends here and overseas would have a greater interest in the V.League 1 with Yaya Toure playing in it, as just like in politics, name recognition matters.

To give but one example, the uptick in social media reaction that Việt Nam News football stories see when a local club brings the likes of David N’Gog in for a trial shows how much a name can matter. And no disrespect to the former Liverpool forward, but Yaya Toure is a much bigger name than David N’Gog.

So Yaya Toure wanted to come to Việt Nam, he wouldn’t break the bank and would have brought benefits off the pitch as well? So why didn’t the move happen?

It’s hard to say what’s really going on behind the scenes at a V.League 1 club, especially when sporting success may not always be the number one goal.

I suspect a lack of ambition or bravery may be what’s keeping the movers and shakers in local clubs from making splash moves like signing a Toure or Cabaye, as there’s much greater embarrassment if the player is a flop (which in all fairness isn’t entirely out of the question with older superstars) than comes from signing an unknown second division Brazilian.

How else can you explain Hà Nội FC forward Geovane Magno earning more per month than former France international Yohan Cabaye was reportedly seeking to play in Việt Nam?

As good as Magno may be, indeed I thought he was the best player in the league last season, the opportunity to sign a Cabaye or Toure won’t always be around for V.League 1 teams, and passing up on it does the league and fans a disservice.

Let’s hope they grab the next one with both hands instead of letting it slip by. —

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/sports/886068/the-local-game-when-opportunity-knocks.html

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Vietnamese athletics eye reign defence at SEA Games 31

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In the last two editions of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Vietnam surpassed Thailand to top the overall track and field medal tally. As the host of the 31st SEA Games this year, it is highly feasible for Vietnam to take the supreme honour

 in the sport for the third successive time.

Vietnamese athletics eye reign defence at SEA Games 31
Nguyen Thi Oanh scores four gold medals at the 2020 National Athletics Championships. Photo: Zing

Vietnamese athletics’ top-spot ambition for the upcoming regional Games is posed with significant challenges as, throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hindered Vietnamese athletes from participating in any overseas training courses as well as international competitions. Entering 2021, amidst the complicated evolution of the disease, international track and field tournaments have remained halted without confirmed dates for return, while it remains unknown when the sending of athletes for overseas training will resume. On mass media, Vietnam’s athletics arch-rivals Thailand have also constantly affirmed their determination to reclaim the lost position. Given that fact, the host country of the 31st SEA Games will have to exert much greater efforts if they wish to defend their regional reign.

Last year, as a result of the two COVID-19 outbreaks, Vietnamese athletics only managed to organise two official domestic tournaments, the Speed Cup (Ho Chi Minh City, June) and the National Championships (Hanoi, November). The inability to train and compete overseas significantly affected the performance of athletes. In previous years, most of the national teams chose to train abroad to improve their profession and performance. In fact, practising in the countries with advanced sport levels brings athletes greater excitement and helps them further improve themselves in terms of both psychology and fitness compared to training at home. By engaging in overseas training camps and competitions, Vietnamese athletes will be able to break their limits to reach new heights. Meanwhile, at the present time, due to the pandemic, athletes in most of the events in which Vietnam is capable of securing a Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 berth have yet to achieve the performance indicators as expected. For example, Vietnam currently ranks 17th in the world regarding the 4x400m relay event and stands a chance to make the top 16 teams qualifying for the 2020 Olympics if international performance is improved in 2021. Even so, athletics is not a key sport of Vietnam in the Olympic arena and the real focus of the track and field department in 2021 is on the 31st SEA Games.

Looking towards the regional Games later this year, Vietnam athletics is completely confident in realising the goal of defending its reign thanks to a team of prominent athletes, such as Le Tu Chinh, who smashed her way to five gold medals at the 2020 National Championships – with two individual titles in the 100m and 200m dash and three team gold medals in the women’s 4x100m, women’s 4x200m and mixed 4x400m disciplines, recording an especially notable time of 11.43 seconds in the 100m distance. Tu Chinh took gold in this event at the 30th SEA Games with 11.54 seconds, 0.14 seconds far from her personal best (11.40 seconds). Another SEA Games 2019 champion, Nguyen Thi Oanh, also scored four gold medals at the National Championships last year and established a new national record in the women’s 10,000m run with a time of 34:08.54, breaking the 17-year-old record set by Doan Nu Truc Van in 2003 (34:48.28). In the men’s medium-distance categories, Duong Van Thai, who won eight SEA Games gold medals, was surprisingly surpassed by 20-year-old Tran Van Dang. Dang’s performance will surely create a big motivation for Duong Van Thai to exert greater efforts at the upcoming 31st SEA Games.

According to experts, in order to top the 31st SEA Games track and field medal tally, Vietnamese athletes will need to secure 17-19 gold medals in a total of 47 events. In the previous Games, the Vietnamese athletics team won 16 golds, four clear of Thailand and five more than that of the Philippines. Thanks to its effective control of COVID-19, Vietnamese athletics is making better preparations for this year’s Games compared to many other countries in the region which are being raged by the pandemic. From the beginning of 2021, coaches and athletes will enjoy a diet costing VND320,000 each per day during their training time at the national team level, which will increase to VND480,000 for a maximum of 90 days prior to official competition. With thorough preparations in the past year as well as in the coming time, athletics and football are the two departments which have been assigned with the biggest tasks and are the most likely to finalise the goal of winning the overall championship title at the 31st SEA Games later this year.  NDO

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/entertainment-sports/vietnamese-athletics-eye-reign-defence-at-sea-games-31-715704.html

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Vietnamese cueist off to rosy start at PBA World Championship 2020-2021

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Ma Minh Cam secured his first win at PBA World Championship 2020-2021, a tournament with the biggest prize money ever offered in the history of pool.

The 46-year-old cueist, ranked 9th by Professional Billiards Association (PBA), had a close game against South Korean Kim Ki-Hyok (24th) after the first day of the tournament with a score of 3-2 (15/13, 11/15, 13/15, 15/8 and 11/3).

Cuiest Ma Minh Cam beats Kim Ki-Hyok 3-2 on Feb.25, the first day of PBA World Championship 2020-2021 in South Korea.

Cuiest Ma Minh Cam beat Kim Ki-Hyok 3-2 on Feb. 25, the first day of PBA World Championship 2020-2021 in South Korea. Photo courtesy of Billiard Vietnam.

His next rival in group H is Tae Jun Oh (25th), who beat Sam Il Seo (8th) with a score of 3-0.

Cam is the only Vietnamese player competing in the championship in South Korea from Feb. 25 to March 6.

He has been in the country since last July to participate in multiple PBA events.

Meanwhile, Ngo Dinh Nai and Nguyen Huynh Phuong Linh, the other two Vietnamese players who joined the PBA 3-cushion carom tourney not so long ago, did not qualify for the tournament since organizers could not determine their rankings since they had taken part in less than five events.

According to the league format, 32 local and foreign cueists are divided into eight groups of four players each. Players go head to head following the round-robin format. The top two players of each group would advance to round-16.

After the elimination round, the final two players will compete in seven bouts, with the first place awarded to whoever wins four matches.

Since the tournament boasts the biggest prize money ever offered in the history of pool, the winner will walk home with 300 million won (over $267,000) out of the prize pool of 400 million won.

Source: https://e.vnexpress.net/news/sports/vietnamese-cueist-off-to-rosy-start-at-pba-world-championship-2020-2021-4240569.html

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Vietnam to host Davis Cup regional group

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Vietnam to host Davis Cup regional group

Vietnamese tennis players celebrate after topping Davis Cup Group III in Hanoi, Vietnam, April 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Thuy.


Vietnam will host the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group III tournament in the southern Tay Ninh Province in June.

The matches will be played at the Hai Dang Tennis Club from June 16 to 19, according to the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The Vietnamese team, ranked 71st in the world, will play Hong Kong (68th), Syria (76th), Sri Lanka (78th), Kuwait (110th), Qatar (111th), Jordan (120th), Pacific Oceania (122nd) and Malaysia (127th).

The fixture list has yet to be announced.

All foreign teams will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival.

Vietnamese coach Truong Quang Vu will pick four players for the tournament in May.

Vietnam have been in Group III since 2003. After topping it in 2018, they failed to get promotion to World Group II after losing 4-0 to Morocco in the play-offs last March.

With home advantage, Vietnam again hope to reach the play-offs next year.

Source: https://e.vnexpress.net/news/sports/vietnam-to-host-davis-cup-regional-group-4238562.html

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