Vietnam football federation seeking a competent, culturally suitable coach

By Hieu Luong   March 28, 2024 | 05:04 am PT
In an exchange with VnExpress on Wednesday, Vice President of the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) Tran Anh Tu said Philippe Troussier’s contract termination leaves many lessons for future coach selection.
HLV Troussier (giữa) cùng các trợ lý trước trận Việt Nam - Indonesia ở vòng loại World Cup 2026 trên sân Mỹ Đình, Hà Nội ngày 26/3. Ảnh: Lâm Thoả

Coach Philippe Troussier (C) is with his assistants before Vietnam and Indonesia match at the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in My Dinh Stadium, Hanoi, March 26, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

Troussier has accepted his premature contract termination after a series of disappointing results with the national team. As a management organization, how is the VFF responsible for this outcome?

Since he signed the contract in February 2023, we have always been respectful of coach Troussier’s professional decisions. He was fully responsible for the professional aspects, and no one could interfere. Regarding other issues, such as working with the media or managing player psychology and team atmosphere, the VFF always provided him support and tried to meet his needs as best as possible.

Nonetheless, coach Troussier faced many difficulties during his time here. Too many key players were injured, affecting the squad's quality. There were suggestions that some players had negative attitudes and did not want to join the national team, but I assert that this was not the case. We have team doctors and sports medicine facilities to carefully assess the players' fitness.

The relationship between the VFF and coach Troussier was close, as we often had exchanges or meals together. However, when the team's results were poor, we realized that he would struggle under current pressure.

Therefore, our discussion on his future on Tuesday went professionally and smoothly. Recent events made coach Troussier himself realize that continuing would not lead to success, so we reached an amicable agreement to terminate the contract.

What criteria were used by the VFF for appointing coach Troussier? He even got to sign a four-year contract, the longest in the history of all Vietnam's national teams.

In early 2023, after coach Park Hang-seo had not renewed his contract, we received applications for replacements. Among them, Troussier emerged as a competent coach with established achievements in Japan, Ivory Coast, and Morocco. He had also had a certain knowledge of Vietnamese football through his time at the U19 team and the PVF youth academy. Furthermore, he personally expressed a strong desire to contribute to Vietnamese football.

At that time, we regarded him as the best candidate among many applicants. With mutual goodwill, both sides negotiated and agreed on all the goals, so we signed a long-term contract.

What lessons does Troussier's lack of success with the Vietnam’s national teams leave for the VFF?

It is not uncommon for a coach to leave a team, but it is never desirable. Being a coach and appointing a coach are not easy tasks. In my opinion, the most important thing is suitability. A good but unsuitable coach will not work, and achieving suitability requires great efforts from both sides.

Professional coaches have clear perspectives. The better the coach, the higher the demands. Therefore, suitability depends on many factors, especially culture, criticism-tolerance, and acceptance of differences. And it is not just the coach; players’ efforts are also needed to achieve the best results together.

Phó chủ tịch VFF Trần Anh Tú. Ảnh: Đức Đồng

Tran Anh Tu, Vice President of Vietnam Football Federation. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

The national team will compete in the World Cup qualifiers against the Philippines and Iraq in June. Will VFF select an interim coach or appoint a permanent coach?

This depends on the process of finding and choosing a coach. We have not had much time to compile a list of suitable candidates, and there are many factors to consider.

In the next two months, if a permanent coach is not identified, we will consider an interim coach, as we did in 2017. At that time, coach Nguyen Huu Thang resigned after the 29th SEA Games, and coach Mai Duc Chung (of the national women's team) temporarily replaced him for the last two matches of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers before coach Park Hang-seo officially took over.

As regional opponents like Thailand and Indonesia are getting stronger and more stable, apart from selecting a coach, what will the VFF do to improve the national team's strength?

The long-term strategy remains focusing on youth development and improving the training quality at the club level. These are mandatory tasks because we consider them the foundation of Vietnamese football.

The second issue is naturalizing players with Vietnamese origin. VFF has had this policy for a long time, with goalkeeper Nguyen Filip being the latest example. However, VFF is not authorized to decide on naturalization, as we must follow Vietnamese Nationality Law. We cannot grant nationality to a player; it depends on whether the player meets the conditions according to the law.

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