Star defender aims for World Cup qualification with Vietnam: FIFA

By Hoang Nguyen   August 7, 2020 | 07:33 pm PT
Star defender aims for World Cup qualification with Vietnam: FIFA
Doan Van Hau celebrates Vietnam's first SEA Games gold medal in men's football on December 10, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa.
Vietnamese football star Doan Van Hau shares his dreams and ambitions in an interview with FIFA.

The football governing body wrote: "Three-time Youth Player of the Year in Vietnam, 2018 AFF Championship winner, 2018 AFC U-23 Championship silver medal, participant in nation’s groundbreaking 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup campaign, and quarter-finalist at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

"It is quite a résumé for 21-year-old Vietnamese defender Doan Van Hau, who is being hailed as one of Asia’s most promising stars."

The 21-year-old left-back returned to Vietnam on August 2 after one year with Dutch club SC Heerenveen in the topflight Eredivisie on loan from Hanoi FC.

During his time in the Netherlands, Hau garnered massive attention from fans and the media.

Hau said playing for SC Heerenveen was a valuable experience for him.

"My life and my work at Heerenveen were good. It was a dream come true joining a European club like Heerenveen. Training and playing alongside those good players has helped me improve."

Hau wanted to continue there for at least one more season though he had spent most of his time playing for the youth team Jong Heerenveen. But the negotiations between Hanoi FC and Heerenveen did not go well, and so he had to return.

Born in a rural area in northern Thai Binh Province, Hau started playing football since he was eight.

He joined Hanoi FC in 2010 and played for the first team in 2017. The same year he was part of the squad for the U20 World Cup and Vietnam became the first Southeast Asian nation to win a point in a men’s FIFA youth tournament.

"I was very excited to play in such a great competition. We underperformed and failed to get a win but that was where we began dreaming bigger - to qualify for the World Cup."

Now as a key defender for the national team, he and his teammates are moving step by step toward a ticket to the World Cup. The Golden Dragons are leading group G in the 2022 World Cup second qualification round with 11 points.

With three wins and two draws, they are above Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the UAE.

If they get seven more points from the remaining three matches they are certain to advance to the next round.

"Of course we are in the driving seat in this group and have some sort of advantage. However, nothing can be taken for granted and in football anything can happen. These three matches are important for us. We have to do our utmost to earn maximum points and to secure a place in the next round. I believe we can make it."

They play Malaysia on October 13, Indonesia on November 12, and the UAE on November 17.

"Not only me, but every player wants to qualify for the World Cup. I will do my best to help my team and I believe that we can pull off further surprises. Do what you can and believe in yourself. Nothing is impossible."

Hau’s return to Vietnam will help both his club and the national team. Hanoi FC are facing a crisis at the back after being hit hard by injuries, while for the national team, he is the number one choice for the left-back position.

Head coach Park Hang-seo has used him in every single tournament since he took charge of the national team in late 2017.

In 2019 he helped Vietnam win their first SEA Games gold in men’s football with two goals in the final.

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