Cong Phuong set to play for HCMC FC after failing to fire in Belgium

By Dong Huyen   December 22, 2019 | 05:00 am PT
Cong Phuong set to play for HCMC FC after failing to fire in Belgium
Nguyen Cong Phuong practices in the field of Belgian club Sint-Truidense V.V. against September, 2019. Photo courtesy of Sint-Truidense V.V. Facebook page.
Ho Chi Minh City FC has reached a deal to bring home striker Nguyen Cong Phuong from Belgian top-flight club Sint-Truidense V.V.

Under the deal, HCMC has bought the remaining half of one-year loan deal signed in July last year between Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC and Sint-Truidense.

A source close to the matter said HCMC will pay the Belgian FC over 100,000 euros ($110,790) to have Phuong, 24, for the first half of 2020.

While HCMC and Sint-Truidense have reached agreement, the contract cannot be signed because the transfer window has closed across Europe and will not reopen until January 1 next year, according to FIFA’s rules.

Phuong is still staying in Sint-Truiden for now and is expected to return to Vietnam later this month.

Ever since he joined the Belgian club, Phuong had been on the field for just one match. He was even sent to play for the U21 Sint Truidense team, but there have been reports that he failed to make impression.

As Phuong returned to Vietnam to play for the national team during the qualification round of the 2020 World Cup in October and November, the striker, considered one of the top players in Vietnam, could not maintain his form and did not score any goals, and even the team's head coach Park Hang-seo expressed concern about it.

Worried about Phuong, the owner of HAGL also suggested that HCMC buys half of the contract of Phuong from Sint-Truiden.

For HCMC, bringing Phuong home will be a preparatory step for the AFC Champions League, the 39th edition of Asia's premier club football tournament organized by the Asian Football Confederation that will kick off on January 14, apart from the top professional football league tournament in Vietnam, the V-League, and the Vietnamese National Football Cup.

HCMC FC currently ranks second in the V-League standings.

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