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Star midfielder makes way into ESPN's AFF Cup XI

By Hoang Nguyen   January 3, 2022 | 11:45 pm PT
Star midfielder makes way into ESPN's AFF Cup XI
Nguyen Hoang Duc (number 14) dribbles in the second leg of AFF Cup semifinals between Vietnam and Thailand on December 26, 2021. Photo by Leo Shengwei
Nguyen Hoang Duc is the only Vietnamese player sports site ESPN picked for their AFF Cup XI.

ESPN considered Duc one of the five best midfielders of AFF Cup 2020, which concluded on Jan. 1. Duc was chosen alongside Thailand’s trio Phithiwat Sukchitthammakul, Supachok Sarachat, Chanathip Songkrasin and Indonesia’s Witan Sulaeman.

"Vietnam may have come up short in their quest to defend the title they won in 2018, but it was not for lack of trying from midfield general Nguyen Hoang Duc. With all eyes on talismanic playmaker Nguyen Quang Hai, it was instead Hoang Duc who ran the show for the Vietnamese with his tidy distribution and non-stop running," ESPN wrote.

Duc came to prominence with his performance in the third round of World Cup qualifiers where he secured a spot in the starting line of the national team in each game. His strengths include the ability to escape pressing and passing accuracy. In AFF Cup 2020, Duc handled both the defensive and offensive duty in the midfield as well as that of ball carrier.

Besides the midfielder trio, three more players of Thailand also made the XI: right-back Narubadin Weerawatnodom, center-back Kritsada Kaman and striker Teerasil Dangda.

In the goalkeeper position is Singapore’s Hassan Sunny, while two other Indonesia players, Alfeandra Dewangga and Pratama Arhan, are in the backline.

The head coach of the tournament is Alexandre Polking, who deserves a lot of credit for leading Thailand to the title again.

AFF Cup 2020 was held from Dec. 5, 2021 to Jan. 1, 2022, after being rescheduled twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Vietnam were the defending champions, but were eliminated by Thailand in the semifinals.

 
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