Vietnam may lose talented goalkeeper to Czech Republic

By Hoang Nguyen   September 6, 2020 | 11:07 pm PT
Filip Nguyen has been called up to the Czech Republic national team for UEFA Nations League, which means he can miss the chance to play for Vietnam.

The Vietnamese-Czech keeper was added to the squad after two massage therapists in the team were infected with Covid-19 after Czech Republic’s first game in Nations League against Slovakia that they won 3-1 on September 5. All players that took part in the match and the head coach were quarantined and will be absent for the next game with Scotland on September 7.

The Football Association of the Czech Republic (FACR) had to make a mass addition to the squad, which included Nguyen. The 27-year-old keeper could not refuse the opportunity to play for the national team.

He has made an announcement on Facebook along with an apology to Vietnamese fans, who have anticipated his appearance for the Golden Dragons once acquiring Vietnamese citizenship.

"I acknowledged yesterday I have a chance to represent Czech Republic at the national level. After discussions with my family, I have decided to take this opportunity. I’m so sorry I couldn’t wait for VFF and the Vietnamese government to grant me the citizenship I had been expecting for the past three years. Playing for the Czech Republic national team means I won’t be able to play for Vietnam anymore. I hope the fans will understand my decision and thank you all for supporting me," Nguyen wrote.

Filip Nguyen plays for Slovan Liberec in Fortuna Liga. Photo courtesy of Slovan Liberec.

Filip Nguyen plays for Slovan Liberec in Fortuna Liga. Photo courtesy of Slovan Liberec.

Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) was supposed to support the star goalkeeper in obtaining citizenship, but his paperwork kept on getting delayed. Earlier in February, Nguyen said he had completed all procedures to gain citizenship in Vietnam and was awaiting official approval.

In 2016, he had first visited Vietnam for a trial with Thanh Hoa FC but didn’t get selected.

Nguyen had expressed his desire to play for Vietnam several times, professing his love for the country and hoping to be part of the national team for the World Cup 2022 qualifiers. However, if he starts for Czech Republic in the upcoming match with Scotland, he would not be able to play for Vietnam anymore.

According to FIFA regulations, any player who has already participated in a match (either in full or in part) in an official competition of any category or any type of football for one association may not play an international match for a representative team of another association.

His addition to the Vietnam national team would have boosted the team’s defensive power, giving coach Park Hang-seo another goalkeeper to choose from, besides Dang Van Lam.

Filip Nguyen is currently worth $887,000 on transfer site Transfermakt, while Lam is valued at $236.500.

At present, Nguyen is playing for Slovan Liberec in the top-flight Czech league, Fortuna Liga. He has proven himself to be one of the best goalkeepers in the tournament. In the 2018-2019 season, he enjoyed a continuous 440-minute clean sheet for his club and was voted "Best Goalkeeper" of the league.

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