Vietnamese forward a star out of high school

By Trung Thu   January 6, 2024 | 05:03 am PT
Vietnamese forward a star out of high school
Nguyen Cong Phuong (C) and his teammates at Yokohama FC during training. Photo by Yokohama FC
Vietnamese forward Nguyen Cong Phuong struggled with game time during his first season with Japan's Yokohama FC and will keep facing challenges as the club have been relegated to the second division this season.

Japanese newspaper Targma has evaluated all players of the club in the 2023 season. However, the evaluation becomes difficult when Phuong only got to play once, entering the match in the second half's stoppage time of the 2-3 defeat to Nagoya Grampus at the J. League Cup in April.

Targma commented that when Phuong first arrived in Yokohama, he was highly appreciated for his skills and loved by many fans, but he "got lost" in a team of 39 players.

"Cong Phuong was treated like a rookie that just got out of high school," Targma wrote. "He has good skills but doesn't have many opportunities to show it."

Among Yokohama’s seven forwards, Phuong had the least playing time, along with Yoshiyuki Ishii. But while Ishii was injured, Phuong often only played during training matches and was not even get registered for any match in J1 League and the Emperor's Cup.

Without regular football, Phuong, who used to be a key player for the Vietnam national football team, has lost his place on the team as coach Philippe Troussier did not call him up for the Asian Cup this year.

"Phuong's pride is hurt," Targma commented. "Another problem is that he's shy and not fluent in English, like many other Vietnamese players."

The 28-year-old striker's contract with Yokohama expires in January 2026.

After the 2023 season, Yokohama were relegated to the J2 League. However, the club aim to return to the J1 League this season. The competition in the squad is still great, and the club want to keep their size to around 40 players.

Yokohama prepared for the new season by extending contracts with many players and coach Shuhei Yomoda. On Jan. 7, the team will hold a ceremony to announce the schedule and new players, before gathering on Jan. 14. The J2 League is scheduled to kick off on Feb. 23.

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