Vietnam tipped as 'troublemakers' at U23 Asian Cup

By Hoang An   April 16, 2024 | 04:36 pm PT
French sports newspaper Lucarne-opposee believes that the sacking of coach Philippe Troussier could be a factor that helps Vietnam create surprises at the 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup.

Ahead of the tournament, the French newspaper identified Japan, South Korea, and Australia as the favorites to claim the Asian Football Confederation’s three spots to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics, while Uzbekistan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are also expected to be in contention.

Meanwhile, the five "troublemakers" that could pull off an upset with a ticket to Paris are Jordan, Indonesia, Tajikistan, China, and Vietnam.

The article in Lucarne-opposee described Vietnam as "a country in a football crisis", but they might still pose a challenge to the giants at the U23 Asian Cup.

Despite having been through a complicated period under coach Troussier, Vietnam are still considered favorites to finish second of Group D.

The AFC U-23 Asian Cup takes place in Qatar from April 15 to May 3, with 16 teams drawn into four groups, each consisting of four teams playing a round-robin format. Vietnam are in Group D alongside Uzbekistan, Malaysia, and Kuwait.

The top two teams from each group advance to the quarter-finals, and the two finalists and the winner of the third-place playoff will directly qualify for the men's Olympic football tournament. The fourth-placed team will compete for a spot against Africa representatives Guinea.

Goalkeeper Quan Van Chuan captains the Vietnam U-23 team, while defenders Luong Duy Cuong and Nguyen Ngoc Thang, midfielder Nguyen Thai Son, and forward Nguyen Van Tung are the four vice-captains. Among them, Van Chuan, Duy Cuong, and Van Tung previously played in the 2022 U-23 Asian Cup under coach Gong Oh-kyun.

Thủ môn Quan Văn Chuẩn (giữa) làm thủ quân U23 Việt Nam, cùng các đội phó Nguyễn Văn Tùng (số 14), Lương Duy Cương (4), Nguyễn Ngọc Thắng (20) và Nguyễn Thái Sơn (19). Ảnh: VFF

Goalkeeper Quan Van Chuan (C) and other members of Vietnam's squad at the U23 Asian Cup: Nguyen Van Tung (number 14), Luong Duy Cuong (4), Nguyen Ngoc Thang (20) and Nguyen Thai Son (19). Photo by VFF

The Lucarne-opposee said Vietnam’s advantage is that all of their star players are from domestic clubs and therefore released for the tournament.

"The squad may seem ordinary, but the midfield looks impressive with Hoang Van Toan and Nguyen Thai Son," wrote Lucarne-opposee. "The young but already experienced Khuat Van Khang will also feature in Qatar."

Van Toan has played 29 matches in the V-League for Cong An Ha Noi, primarily as a central midfielder. Thai Son has also featured in 33 V-League matches for Thanh Hoa and has been a regular for the national team under Troussier. Van Khang has accumulated experience in 22 V-League matches for The Cong, scoring one goal in 13 appearances for the national team.

Leading Vietnam at the tournament is coach Hoang Anh Tuan, after the Vietnam Football Federation terminated Troussier’s contract following the national team's consecutive defeats to Indonesia in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Discussing Vietnam's strengths, the French newspaper remarked: "With the departure of Philippe Troussier, it is Hoang Anh Tuan who will take over the interim role. Although he is not tactically strong, the U-20 and U-19 coach knows the players well."

Coach Hoang Anh Tuan previously took Vietnam to the semi-finals of the 2016 U-19 Asian Cup and secured a place in the 2017 U-20 World Cup.

As a player, he was a defender, spending his entire career at Khanh Hoa FC. In the V-League, the 56-year-old coach has managed Khanh Hoa and Hai Phong but has mainly worked with youth teams for the past nine years.

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