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Vietnamese youngsters make world 3-cushion championship debuts




Lê Xuân Ân is one of Việt Nam’s two representatives at the 13th World Championship 3-Cushion Juniors in Heerhugowaard, the Netherlands, on September 23-25. Photo

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam has had two representatives competing at the 13th World Championship 3-Cushion Juniors (U22) in Heerhugowaard in the Netherlands for the first time.

Lê Xuân Ân and Nguyễn Hoài Phong are facing 22 other competitors, including ten from Europe, four from America, six from Asia and two from Africa on September 23-25.

Ân secured his slot after winning the HCM City 3-Cushion Junior Open, which lured more than 130 athletes nationwide in late July.

He defeated Phong in the final after an incredible last inning that brought him eight points and wrapped the match at 35-21.

Phong, who was second, is also enjoying the world championships for the first time in his career.

“I travelled from Huế to HCM City for the tournament, dreaming of winning the tournament like all other athletes. I met a lot of difficulty before taking the title,” Ân said.

“I am happy to qualify for the world championship. It is a little nervous because it is my first time, and I don’t know about our rivals, so I just want to go as far as possible,” Ân said.

“I will try to perform my best and grab high results for Việt Nam’s billiards. It will be a big ‘thank you’ to our coaches and sponsors who give me this opportunity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Phong wishes he had more time to train before competing in Heerhugowaard.

Ân, 20, is from Thừa Thiên Huế Province and is a player of HCM City. He began playing billiards when he was six and has been pro for four years. He has tested his ability in the national championship twice. 

Phong, 19, is an An Giang Province native living in HCM City. He has played billiards for four years.

It is also the first time they are participating in a competition abroad.

The duo, under coach Đặng Đình Tiến, landed in the Netherland yesterday and had two days of training ahead of the competition.

Although it is the first time the Vietnamese young competitors are at the tournament, Việt Nam’s billiards is well-known around the world with famed players such as Trần Quyết Chiến, Nguyễn Quốc Nguyện, Mã Minh Cẩm, Mã Xuân Cường, and Ngô Đình Nại.

An article posted on the European Billiard Confederation’s website states: “It’s not easy to guess the winner. The talented youngsters from Turkey and the other European countries will face a great challenge from their Asian opponents.”

Meanwhile, 35-time world championship winner Raymond Ceulemans of Belgium also praised Vietnamese athletes, saying: ”Belgians and the Netherlands were on top in billiards for years, now [South] Korea, Việt Nam and Turkey have become leading.”

In Heerhugowaard, 24 players are divided into eight groups of three. The best two of each group will advance to the last 16 knock-out rounds.

“Because of limited time, we do not change their playing style but try to train them new skills. As a result, they have progressed dramatically after several weeks,” said coach Tiến, a former SEA Games champion.

“As it is their first time, the matter of mentality is important. We also strengthened their mindset, hoping that they will be in good and stable spirits throughout their matches.

“Another issue is that we don’t have information of other athletes, we only notice that they are trained very well. We don’t expect to take a high ranking but to make the world alert about Việt Nam’s billiards,” Tiến said.

Nguyễn Hoàng Yến Nhi competes in Group H at the ongoing 10th World Championship 3-Cushion Ladies. Photo

The 10th World Championship 3-Cushion Ladies is ongoing with the same format and at the same venue in Heerhugowaard.

Việt Nam is represented by Phùng Kiện Tường and Nguyễn Hoàng Yến Nhi.

Tường is in Group B against Pruim Mirjam of the hosts and Cardoso Estela of Spain. 

Nhi is in Group H playing Mortensen Marianne of Denmark and Gok Arzu of Turkey. 

Therese Klompenhouwer of the hosts is the defending champion and favourite for this event. She will try to win her fifth world title. The final is scheduled for Thursday. VNS



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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