Football nostalgia: A look back at 7 Nguyen Quang Hai stunners

By Hoang Nguyen   May 2, 2020 | 12:00 am PT
Football nostalgia: A look back at 7 Nguyen Quang Hai stunners
Nguyen Quang Hai in 2020 AFC U23 Championship. Photo courtesy of Asian Football Confederation.
When fans rave about the prodigious talent and exploits of Vietnam’s midfield maestro Nguyen Quang Hai – seven specific instances they will revisit are:

Breaking the tie

At the World Cup 2022 qualification game with Malaysia in October last year, Hai scored the only goal to ensure victory for Vietnam.

As the team struggled to find the net with the Malaysian defense playing a tight game, Hai stepped up, once again. A lofted pass from centre-back Que Ngoc Hai sent Quang Hai down the box. From a very narrow angle, Hai executed an exquisite finish and the My Dinh National Stadium burst in joy.

Control and volley

Hai is not just a key player for the national team, he has shown his mettle for Hanoi FC as well.

This amazing goal against Song Lam Nghe An in V. League 1 in September 2019 shows his brilliance. He cleverly beat the offside trap to receive a long pass from his teammate, controlled the ball with his chest and volleyed it to the top corner, giving the goalkeeper no chance to stop it.

Pick of the flick

During the final game of the 2020 AFC U23 Championship qualifiers against arch rivals Thailand in March 2019, Hai’s outstanding performance saw him boss the midfield throughout 90 minutes. Vietnam was leading 3-0 in stoppage time and Hai was just simply playing around with the Thai defense at this point.

The dominance reached a peak with an instinctive flick over a Thai defender to provide the ball to Do Thanh Thinh for the latter to sprint down the left flank and pass it to an unmarked Tran Phi Son, setting up a 4-0 victory for Vietnam.

Dribble and assist

In the same 4-0 victory, Hai showed off his skill set as he dribbled from the midfield, broke into the box and passed it deftly to Nguyen Hoang Duc, setting up the latter with a great goal scoring change. Duc did the needful and Vietnam was up 2-0.

Favorite distance

Hai has scored goals from many free kicks in his career, most of them from near the box. But this beauty against Yemen in the final group stage game of the Asian Cup 2019 went on to be voted the best goal of the tournament.

From outside the box, Hai bent his left foot brilliantly to glide the ball into the top corner, opening the scoreboard for Vietnam. His goal also helped the team go past the group stage.

Long-range stunner

Hai scored one of the most important goals in his career during the semi-final of the 2018 AFC U23 Championship against Qatar. When Vietnam was trailing 1-2 and there were just a few minutes left in the game, Hai delivered under pressure.

In the 88th minute, Luong Xuan Truong took a free kick, Qatar defenders cleared the ball and it found Hai. From outside the box, the midfielder scored a beauty with his left foot. The ball curled perfectly, hit the right post and went in. Vietnam went into the extra time and defeated Qatar in the penalty shootout.

The whole stadium was exploded in joy and so did the commentators as they screamed "Quang Hai, left foot. Gooooaaaallll! Unbelievable!"

Rainbow in the snow

Perhaps the most iconic goal of Hai’s career was a masterpiece in completely alien surroundings, playing for the first time when it was snowing. Hai curled home a fantastic free-kick to draw Vietnam level with Uzbekistan in the final of the 2018 AFC U23 Championship. The goal has written itself into history as ‘Rainbow in the Snow’.

While Vietnam went on to lose the match 1-2 after conceding a goal in the last minute of extra-time, the campaign saw both Hai and a talented young Vietnamese team gain recognition and begin a two-year period in which they sent millions of fans into ecstasy with a long run of successes.

This is what the 23-year-old Hai had to say about his goal to the AFC: "Now, when we look back at the photos, I feel like we look like the heart in the snow. The goal was not mine, it was a symbol of the Vietnamese competitive spirit."

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