Vietnam national football team needs a reboot: expert

By Quang Huy   December 28, 2021 | 06:25 am PT
Vietnam national football team needs a reboot: expert
Nguyen Hoang Duc (number 14) dribbles in the second leg of the AFF Cup semifinal between Vietnam and Thailand on December 26, 2021. Photo by Leo Shengwei
Football expert Doan Minh Xuong said the AFF Cup failure is not a tragedy for Vietnam but it's a sign they need something new.

"Except the victory over Malaysia, Vietnam didn't meet expectations in their other games," Xuong said, citing some mental and physical reasons.

"The team didn't have the best mentality, especially the main squad. They have been on a long journey since the World Cup qualifiers in May. They have been far from their family for at least five months and are always put under pressure. That killed their excitement."

Xuong said the win against Malaysia came from the fact they had six days to rest prior. In other games, with only three days to rest between each, players weren't in their best form, they showed fatigue and were low in stamina in the last 30 minutes.

He said Vietnam's physical strength and stamina are still limited.

"The more they play in the tournament, the more weaknesses are revealed... There was no strategy or efficacy involved."

The absence of several key players is also a major disadvantage, he said. Nguyen Phong Hong Duy and Vu Van Thanh couldn't fill the spots of Doan Van Hau and Nguyen Trong Hoang, while in the midfield, coach Park Hang-seo was struggling with his options as he constantly rotated midfielders.

Xuong also commented on Thailand, the team that eliminated Vietnam in the semifinals.

"If Vietnam played with their true power, Thailand would not be a tough opponent. Looking at Thailand’s performance, I don’t think they deserve to be the champions. They are so practical and don’t really have a particular style of play. In the first leg of the semifinals, they played counter-attacks and used tricks to provoke Vietnam. Thailand are indeed stronger thanks to experienced individuals who have the ability to create a difference like Chanathip Songkrasin or Teerasil Dangda but in terms of playing style, I prefer Indonesia."

After Vietnam's elimination, the media and fans have once again mentioned the importance of getting stars like Nguyen Quang Hai or Nguyen Hoang Duc to play football overseas for development, with which Xuong agrees.

"I always support this idea of bringing talents to play football overseas. They will learn a lot more. It will not only bring benefits to those players but also the national team."

Xuong made some suggestions on how the team can prepare for a busy football year in 2022.

"Firstly, we need to let key players rest in the upcoming World Cup qualifying games. If we have to use them, then only do it in the two home games against China and Oman so Vietnam can get at least a point and avoid leaving the qualifiers empty-handed. That will help them to recharge and regain their inspiration."

Secondly, Xuong said, the process of treatment should be speeded for key players like Dang Van Lam, Van Hau, Trong Hoang and Do Hung Dung so they can return in time.

Last but not least, Vietnam need to invest in the U23 team for SEA Games and U23 Asian Cup to find new players.

"It’s time for Vietnam to enhance their style of play and efficacy. The old players might only be fit for counter-attacking football. We cannot play like that forever."

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