Vietnam star keeper avoids selection talks ahead of Saudi Arabia clash

By Lam Thoa   August 30, 2021 | 12:55 am PT
Vietnam star keeper avoids selection talks ahead of Saudi Arabia clash
Dang Van Lam at a training session with Vietnam national football team in Saudi Arabia, August 29, 2021. Photo by Vietnam Football Federation
Dang Van Lam said he wants to focus on training and leave coach Park Hang-seo to select Vietnam's main custodian in the upcoming World Cup qualifier match against Saudi Arabia.

When asked about competition for a place in the starting XI with veteran keeper Bui Tan Truong, Lam said it was not on his mind. "Getting the call to the national team has always been a huge motivation for me. I want to stay focused and give my all to the team, and leave the selection to the coach."

Dang Van Lam was Park's first-choice keeper when Vietnam won 2018 AFF Cup and made it to the quarter-final of 2019 Asian Cup, and featured in the team's first five games of the second 2022 World Cup qualifiers. However, after one of his Cerezo Osaka teammates had tested positive for Covid-19, Lam was not called up for the remaining three qualifiers in the UAE in June. Bui Tan Truong stepped up to fill Lam's spot, and the 36-year-old played an important role in sending Vietnam to the third qualifier as one of the best group runners-up.

Lam has finally got the chance to return to the national team after nearly two years, but he could only join the team on Aug. 27 after flying directly from Japan to Qatar. Truong, on the other hand, has been training with the team since Aug. 5.

After arriving in Riyadh, the Vietnam national team started training last Saturday to prepare for their game against Saudi Arabia on Thursday. The team were well-received by the organizers, though the typical hot and dry weather of the Middle East proved to be unwelcoming. Although training sessions were scheduled at 8 p.m., players could barely avoid the heat as the temperature remained above 40 degrees Celsius.

"We were all surprised by the weather in Saudi Arabia. It is extremely hot and dry here," said Lam in an interview prior to Sunday's training session. "But professional players should be able to adapt well to the weather and perform at their best."

This is the first time Vietnam are in the final World Cup qualifiers. They face Saudi Arabia on Sept. 2 and return home to play Australia five days later.

Vietnam national team train in Saudi Arabia for the World Cup qualifiers, August 29, 2021. Video by Vietnam Football Federation

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