Playing strong teams best way to improve: Vietnam captain

By Hoang Nguyen   March 23, 2022 | 06:00 pm PT
Playing strong teams best way to improve: Vietnam captain
Do Hung Dung (number 8) in the World Cup qualifying game between Vietnam and China in Hanoi on February 1, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Do Hung Dung, captain of the Vietnam's national football team, said playing stronger teams like Oman or Japan is the best way for Vietnam to improve their level.

"In this round, every opponent has been strong – the top level in Asia – so even if we compete at our very best, it’s difficult to close the gap. But there is a saying that the opponent is the best teacher, and the stronger the opponent, the more that can be learned," Dung told the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) about Vietnam's upcoming World Cup qualifying games, against Oman on Thursday and Japan five days later.

Vietnam lost seven consecutive games in the first time that they advanced to the final round of 2022 World Cup qualifiers. The streak ended when the team beat China 3-1 in February. Dung believes that the impressive performance against China has motivated Vietnam to get another win.

"We may have lost seven matches in a row but we learned from each one, and I think we can only improve if we play regularly against high-class teams such as Japan. We have not always had the chance to compete against Asia's elite teams, but this has given us valuable experience – physically and psychologically – so even though we can't qualify for the World Cup, we cherish each match.

The Oman players have pace and power, but we also have our strengths, especially when playing in front of our home support. It's our last home game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers so we want to bring more joy to our fans," he said.

Dung was absent in the first six games of Vietnam in the final round due to a severe injury a year ago. When he returned, coach Park hang-seo named him the new captain and he shined with two assists in the game with China.

"I had just returned to the team after a long injury so I had to readjust to the squad. Fortunately, I got a lot of support from the coaching staff and my teammates, so everything went smoothly. But, to be honest, I felt a bit of pressure when I was given the captain's armband. However, it was only fleeting because I could see it in my teammates' eyes, feel it in their handshakes, that they trusted me, so I knew I wasn't alone," he said.

Vietnam will play Oman at home, in My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi.

Another win will help them move past China in group B. Dung affirmed that Vietnam set a higher goal, which is qualifying for the next World Cup.

"We are aiming to reach the 2026 World Cup, especially because the number of participants has been increased to 48."

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