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Vietnam goalkeepers compete for spot at AFF Cup 2020

By Hoang Nguyen   June 17, 2020 | 10:54 pm PT
Vietnam goalkeepers compete for spot at AFF Cup 2020
Dang Van Lam, the number one goalkeeper of Vietnam, might be absent in AFF Cup 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Football Federation.
With main goalkeeper Dang Van Lam most likely absent from AFF Cup this year, the field is open for other Vietnamese keepers.

The Vietnamese-Russian keeper can only play in the tournament if his club Muangthong United in Thailand agreed. But with Thai League still on going till the end of 2020, there is a high chance Muangthong won’t let the 26-year-old return to Vietnam, as the club’s number one goalie. Accordingly, other rising Vietnamese keepers will have the opportunity to prove themselves on the biggest Southeast Asia football stage.

Substitutes are losing grip

Ever since coach Park Hang-seo took charge of the national team, he has chosen five keepers to substitute Lam in case he could not play: Nguyen Tuan Manh, Pham Van Cuong, Nguyen Van Toan, Tran Nguyen Manh and Bui Tien Dung. However, all are currently not on form.

After only four fixtures, Cuong has conceded 11 goals, the worst performance among goalkeepers during 2020 V. League 1. He made several mistakes in the fourth fixture that caused Quang Nam FC to lose 1-6 against SHB Da Nang, a tennis score. In the same fixture, Toan also underperformed as Hai Phong FC lost 0-5 to Becamex Binh Duong.

Manh, after moving to new club Viettel FC, conceded five goals in four games. Dung couldn't even compete for the number one keeper position at new club HCMC FC, and Manh still needs more time to prove himself, conceding an average one goal per game.

New contenders

In terms of form this season, no keepers can compare to Nguyen Van Hoang. Transferring from Sai Gon FC to his hometown club Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA), the 25-year-old was trusted as main goalie.

Nguyen Van Hoang in Song Lam Nghe An jersey. Photo courtesy of SLNA.

Nguyen Van Hoang in the Song Lam Nghe An jersey. Photo courtesy of SLNA.

After four games, SLNA scored eight points with two wins and two draws. Hoang has gone 360 minutes during this V. League 1 season without conceding a goal, the only keeper in the league with a clean sheet. He has shown his strength in reflexes and positioning, at an impressive height of 1.86 m.

Another possible call up is Tran Duc Cuong. The 35-year-old goalkeeper is a veteran returning to form at Becamex Binh Duong. Solid and effective, he has only conceded one goal in the league so far, helping Binh Duong slide into the top four.

Last but not least is Vietnamese-Czech goalkeeper Filip Nguyen. The 27-year-old has been the number one keeper of Czech club Slovan Liberec since 2018, boasting solid performances year after year.

At the moment, Filip is still in the final process of naturalization, having expressed his desire to play for Vietnam many times. Vietnam Football Federation is supporting the lengthy procedures as soon as possible. If Filip could become a Vietnamese citizen in time, he would be a perfect replacement for Lam.

Filip Nguyen is trying to complete the prodcedures to play for Vietnam national team. Photo courtesy of Slovan Liberec.

Filip Nguyen hopes to join the Vietnam national team after naturalization. Photo courtesy of Slovan Liberec.

VFF General Secretary Le Hoai Anh said: "Filip Nguyen always aspires to contribute to the Vietnamese team. The goalkeeper himself is also a talented player who deserves to play for his country. VFF is very eager to add the services of Filip Nguyen to the national team so we are actively supporting his family to carry out legal procedures."

Recently, ASEAN Football Federation boosted the number of registered players in AFF Cup 2020 from 23 to 30. With this adjustment, coach Park Hang-seo can bring more than three goalkeepers to the tournament, which means more Vietnamese keepers could have the opportunity to prove their mettle.

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