Indonesia newspaper warns of 'nightmare' striker from Vietnam

By Trung Thu   March 12, 2024 | 10:31 pm PT
Indonesia newspaper warns of 'nightmare' striker from Vietnam
Nguyen Tien Linh celebrates after scoring against Indonesia in the semifinal of AFF Cup in 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong
Indonesia's Bola Sport said coach Shin Tae-yong and the national football team should be wary when Nguyen Tien Linh, the Vietnamese striker who frequently scored against Indonesia, returns.

"Indonesia are Tien Linh's favorite opponent. Shin Tae-yong and his players need to beware of this striker's return when they play Vietnam," Bola Sport wrote, later calling Linh a "nightmare" for Indonesia.

Linh has scored four goals against Indonesia’s national and U23 teams. He scored the opener in Vietnam's thrashing 4-0 win of Indonesia in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. At SEA Games 31 in Vietnam, Linh scored the opening goal in U23 Vietnam's 3-0 group stage win over Indonesia. Most recently, the 26-year-old striker scored twice to help Vietnam defeat Indonesia 2-0 in the semifinals at the 2022 AFF Cup.

Due to injury, Linh could not join Vietnam at the 2023 Asian Cup, where the team lost 0-1 to Indonesia. He is expected to make a difference for the team in the next two crucial matches against Indonesia at the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

"Tien Linh could be the answer to Vietnam's striker crisis," Bola Sport commented.

Coach Philippe Troussier has called up six attackers for the two matches against Indonesia on March 21 and 26. Joining Linh are Nguyen Dinh Bac, Nguyen Van Toan, Nguyen Cong Phuong, Nguyen Van Tung and Nham Manh Dung.

Among them, Bac and Tung are out of form, Toan is a winger, Dung lacks experience and Phuong has not gotten enough playing time at Japanese club Yokohama FC. Thus, Linh will be the biggest hope for Vietnam.

Pham Tuan Hai, who has been Vietnam's main striker for the past year, will be absent this time due to injury.

Linh also showed good form this season. He scored twice in Becamex Binh Duong's 3-2 victory over SLNA in round 13 of V. League last Saturday, reaching 60 goals for the club.

On the national team, Linh is the top scorer on the current roster, with 18 goals in 43 matches, an average of 0.42 goals per game. He is third among national team's all-time scorers, trailing Le Huynh Duc and Le Cong Vinh by nine and 33 goals, respectively.

The Vietnam national team will gather in Hanoi on March 13 and have six days to train before heading to Indonesia to play the hosts at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on March 21. Five days later, the two teams will clash again at Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium.

Vietnam are currently second in group F of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers second round, after Iraq, with two points ahead of Indonesia. Vietnam's goal is to avoid defeat and secure at least one victory against Indonesia to maintain their advantage over their opponents in the group.

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