Players also responsible for Vietnam's failure: Asian football pundit

By Xuan Binh   March 29, 2024 | 11:00 pm PT
Players also responsible for Vietnam's failure: Asian football pundit
Do Hung Dung (L) and Nguyen Tien Linh thank fans after Vietnam lost 0-3 to Indonesia at My Dinh National Stadium, Hanoi in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers on March 26, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Coach Philippe Troussier was not the only one to blame as players were also responsible for the disappointing results of Vietnam national team, according to football expert Ryan Walters.

Walters, the founder of K League United, the official English channel of the South Korean league who has recently worked more with Southeast Asian football, told VnExpress that Vietnam Football Federation's dismissal of coach Troussier was "more than fair."

"The playing style and tactical system Troussier tried to build for Vietnam did not suit the players on the team," the 40-year-old expert said.

But he also said that "The players should look in the mirror for a long time, then explain to themselves why the team are in the current situation."

For the first time in history, Vietnam lost three consecutive matches to Indonesia, including two matches five days apart in the 2026 World Cup second qualifying round. The 0-3 defeat at My Dinh Stadium on Tuesday was the final straw that put an end to Troussier’s stint and his contract was terminated two years early. Many domestic experts believed that the 69-year-old coach must take responsibility for this failure while Walters thinks the players must also question themselves.

"The results showed that Indonesia have a good squad and they are a contender for the AFF Cup title this year, but they are not that strong to beat Vietnam twice in a row like that," Walters said.

"Vietnam are clearly in a transition period and the players must demonstrate their leadership qualities. Of course, this task is more difficult when they are placed in the wrong system."

Walters, who has gone to many football stadiums in Vietnam to watch V-League games, often interviewed Vietnamese players, including Do Hung Dung. The 31-year-old midfielder is the captain of the team, but recently has not been able to maintain his form.

Besides Dung, other players with a lot of experience in the team, like Nguyen Tuan Anh, Nguyen Van Toan and Nguyen Tien Linh got the chance to play but they only managed to score one goal in seven official matches under Troussier. Nguyen Quang Hai did not play a single minute in the past four 2026 World Cup qualifying games, Nguyen Hoang Duc seemed out of place in two games against Indonesia and Ho Tan Tai only played as a substitute.

Football expert Ryan Walters (R) in an interview with Do Hung Dung in Hanoi on March 12, 2024. Photo by Ryan Walters

Football expert Ryan Walters (R) is with Vietnam's midfielder Do Hung Dung in Hanoi on March 12, 2024. Photo by Ryan Walters

Other experienced players such as Que Ngoc Hai, Doan Van Hau, Nguyen Cong Phuong and Do Duy Manh were often injured and could not contribute much to the national team in recent international games. Meanwhile, young and new players like Vo Minh Trong, Nguyen Dinh Bac, Khuat Van Khang and Phan Tuan Tai were not consistent. With a broken squad, Vietnam lost 10 of the last 11 matches under Troussier in all competitions.

The previous coach Park Hang-seo emphasized solidity in defense, both from open play and set pieces. Under Park, the team did not have a very high winning rate (47%), but their losing rate (25%) was the lowest among foreign coaches of Vietnam.

During Troussier's spell, the team spent more time on ball control and short passes but the attacking power did not improve. On average, the team scored only 0.8 goals per match, compared to 1.6 goals under Park. The team's conceding rate also increased, from 0.9 goals conceded per match under Park, to 1.7 goals. Troussier has the worst win and loss ratio among the 10 foreign coaches who have led Vietnam.

Walters said the new coach should "know how to adjust the team's playing style and tactics that fit the players, instead of sticking with their own football philosophy and forcing the players to follow it."

Only then will the team's performance improve, he said.

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