ESPN expects Vietnamese midfielder to shine in Asian Cup

By Hieu Luong   January 11, 2024 | 06:20 pm PT
ESPN expects Vietnamese midfielder to shine in Asian Cup
Nguyen Quang Hai at the 2019 Asian Cup. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong
Sports channel ESPN has named Nguyen Quang Hai among the players to watch at this year's Asian Cup, thanks to his habit of performing well in big tournaments.

"Although the hype surrounding him has diminished slightly, especially after a disappointing spell in the second tier of French football with Pau, Quang Hai remains Vietnam's biggest talent and has a habit of shining on the big stage, as he did at the last Asian Cup when he inspired his nation to a quarterfinal appearance," it wrote.

At the last edition in 2019 the 26-year-old midfielder contributed to two of Vietnam's five goals. The first was the opening goal in the 2-3 loss to Iraq in the first group game when his through ball caused a defender to score an own goal. The other was a successful free kick against Yemen in the final group game that Vietnam won 2-0 to advance to the round of 16 as one of the best third-placed teams.

Hai has also shone in other major tournaments.

He scored five of Vietnam's eight goals to help them finish runner-up at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship.

At the 2018 Asian Games he scored the only goal to help Olympic Vietnam beat Olympic Japan 1-0.

At the end of that year, he scored thrice to help Vietnam win the AFF Cup and was named player of the tournament.

In the 2022 World Cup second qualifying round Hai scored the only goal in Vietnam's 1-0 win over Malaysia.

In the third qualifying round, he scored in the 1-3 loss to Saudi Arabia.

Now he is one of five Vietnamese players remaining from the last edition, along with Do Duy Manh, Ho Tan Tai, Do Hung Dung, and Nguyen Van Toan.

When fit, he remains the top choice of coach Philippe Troussier.

ESPN said: "Vietnam have it all to do if they are to make it out of the group stage again, but they have a penchant for causing an upset and, with Indonesia a team they are fully capable of beating, they might just need one result against the other two group D teams (Japan and Iraq) to sneak into the knockout round."

Vietnam start their Asian Cup campaign against Japan on Jan. 14, and take on Indonesia on the 19th and Iraq on the 25th.

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