Defender asks Vietnam teammates to avoid overestimating Indonesia's naturalized players

By Lam Thoa   March 20, 2024 | 03:08 pm PT
Defender asks Vietnam teammates to avoid overestimating Indonesia's naturalized players
Doan Van Hau celebrates his goal against Indonesia at the SEA Games 30 final in the Philippines, Dec. 10, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
Defender Doan Van Hau believes the levels of Indonesia’s naturalized players are no greater than those of Southeast Asian players, so Vietnam and Indonesia are on an equal footing in their 2026 World Cup qualifier clash on Thursday.

Indonesia currently sit bottom of Group F of the 2026 World Cup second qualifiers with one point. They will face Vietnam in two consecutive matches, the first leg at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Central Jakarta on March 21 and the second leg at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on March 26.

Coach Shin Tae-young is eyeing two victories to take his team closer to advancing to the third qualifiers.

To achieve such a goal, Indonesia have called up a series of naturalized players currently playing in Europe, mainly from the Netherlands. Although Thom Haye and Ragnar Oratmangoen were not registered in time for the two matches, Indonesia still have nine players born and raised abroad, namely defenders Shayne Pattynama, Jordi Amat, Sandy Walsh, Justin Hubner, Jay Idzes, Nathan Tjoe Aon, midfielders Marc Klok and Ivar Jenner, and striker Rafael Struick.

On the contrary, a wave of injuries has caused Vietnam to lose numerous key players, such as goalkeeper Dang Van Lam, midfielder Nguyen Tuan Anh, and defenders Do Duy Manh and Doan Van Hau.

Đoàn Văn Hậu va chạm với Asnawi Mangkualam ở bán kết lượt về AFF Cup 2022. Ảnh: Hiếu Lương

Vietnam's Doan Van Hau (right, back) in a collision with Indonesia's Asnawi Mangkualam at the AFF Cup 2022 semifinal first leg in Jakarta. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong

For years, Vietnam used to be the favorites, but this is a rare occasion where the tide has turned for Indonesia, after they gained the first victory after eight years over Vietnam at the 2023 Asian Cup group stage earlier this year.

However, defender Doan Van Hau believes Vietnam have no reason to be afraid of Indonesia, especially their line-up of naturalized players. The defender thinks that the repeated stories in the media about Indonesia’s naturalized players somewhat affect the spirit of the team. Vietnam need to overcome this psychological obstacle by not overestimating the opponents, or else the players will not be their usual selves on the pitch.

"If those players have superior skills or talents, they would have tried to join the Netherlands national team or other European countries with developed football, instead of naturalizing for Indonesia," Hau told VnExpress.

"Those naturalized players are only at the Southeast Asian level, and we can absolutely play against them. We just need to step onto the pitch and fight with all our might."

Hau is certainly not popular among many Indonesian fans, especially after the 2019 SEA Games final, where he forced a red card for Evan Dimas and scored a brace to earn Vietnam the gold medal. At the national team level, Vietnam have been unbeaten against Indonesia when Hau plays, winning three and drawing two out of five matches.

Nevertheless, Vietnam had to do without Hau at the 2023 Asian Cup due to injury. They eventually lost 0-1 to Indonesia in the group stage and were ousted early. The left-back will not be with the team in Indonesia on Thursday either as he recently underwent a surgery to treat an issue in his Achilles tendon.

According to Hau, Vietnam’s biggest worry in the first leg match is the pressure from the crowd at Bung Karno Stadium. "The stadium with nearly 80,000 seats will be filled with roaring fans, creating a suffocating atmosphere throughout the match," he said.

"I have experienced it when playing with the national team in the first leg of the 2022 AFF Cup semi-finals. If they are not mentally strong, the away team will be overwhelmed from the early minutes, making it difficult to perform at the highest levels.

"The senior players need to help the youngsters to overcome moments like these. In the previous match, I remained firm because I convinced myself that those cheers were meant for, not against, me," Hau said.

The left-back proposed that the coaching staff and players have special communication strategies to understand each other well. This will help the team coordinate better in the crowded and noisy stadium, where players standing a few meters apart cannot hear each other.

Another concerning issue for Hau is the referees. He believes that with more than 80,000 fans in the stadium, any referee would be pressured to favor the home team to some extent.

The 25-year-old defender also reminded his teammates to remain calm when facing provocative actions or diving from the opponents.

"I still vividly remember the time when an Indonesian player standing next to me suddenly fell down as if I hit him and demanded the referee to penalize me in the match at My Dinh Stadium in early 2023," he recalled.

In the 74th minute of the second leg of the 2023 AFF Cup semi-finals, when Vietnam was awarded a corner, naturalized midfielder Marc Klok, who was marking Hau, suddenly fell down and rolled on the ground, clutching his stomach in pain. The Indonesian players immediately surrounded Hau and pushed the Vietnamese defender to the ground. They also continuously pressured and demanded the referee to book him.

Naturalized player Marc Klok apparently pretends to fall next to Doan Van Hau in Vietnam and Indonsia's clash at the AFF Cup 2022 semifinal second leg in My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi.

It was a dive by Klok, as Hau had already received a yellow card earlier in the game. In this incident, the left-back closed his hand behind his back and made no impact on Klok. The referee made the correct decision by not penalizing Vietnam and even showed a yellow card to Ridho, who pushed Hau.

"It was the most laughable moment of my career. I was amazed by such a theatrical act. Luckily, I remained calm," shared Hau. "In the upcoming match at Bung Karno, the opponents will probably deploy similar tactics, so we need to be alert and avoid falling into their traps."

Hau believes that with the format of home and away matches, Vietnam gaining a point at the fiery Bung Karno can be considered a success. They can then unleash their full strength to defeat the opponents on home turf.

go to top