Coach Troussier checks on Vietnamese star forward in Japan

By Minh Khang   February 26, 2024 | 01:07 am PT
Vietnam head coach Philippe Troussier has visited Japan to check on forward Nguyen Cong Phuong's form, in preparation for the national team's World Cup qualifying campaign in March.

Coach Troussier traveled to Japan to meet Phuong on the weekend. The French coach wanted to directly assess the performance of the 30-year-old forward to decide whether to call him up to the national team or not.

In the opening match of the 2024 J2 League against Renofa Yamaguchi on Saturday, Phuong was not registered in Yokohama's squad list. However, on Sunday, he played the full 90 minutes in a match for the B team.

After the match, coach Troussier encouraged Phuong to keep trying. The 68-year-old coach hopes he will get more playing time in Japan, continue to develop himself and contribute to Vietnamese football.

Nguyen Cong Phuong (R) and coach Philippe Troussier in Japan. Photo by VFF

Coach Philippe Troussier (L) and forward Nguyen Cong Phuong in Japan. Photo by VFF

Since joining Yokohama FC in early 2023, Phuong has only played less than one minute in a 2-3 loss to Nagoya Campus in the J-League Cup. He was not registered for any match in Japan's top-tier J1 League. Even though Yokohama was relegated to the second division this season, Phuong continued to stay at the club. The two sides reached a one-year contract extension agreement in January.

Under coach Troussier, Phuong was called up to the national team in September 2023. In the friendly match against Palestine, he came off the bench and scored one goal, helping Vietnam win 2-0. However, Troussier believed Phuong still had many limitations and did not call him up for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers and the 2023 Asian Cup.

Vietnam national team are set to gather on March 12 to prepare for two matches against Indonesia in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. The first leg will take place at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on March 21, and the second leg at My Dinh Stadium on March 26.

After two rounds, Vietnam are currently second in group F with three points, behind Iraq. Indonesia and Philippines each have one point. In their most recent encounter at the 2023 Asian Cup, Vietnam lost 0-1 to Indonesia.

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