Vietnam star midfielder nets historic AFC Cup free kick

By Hoang Nguyen   June 5, 2020 | 06:44 pm GMT-8
Vietnam star midfielder nets historic AFC Cup free kick
Nguyen Quang Hai (in purple) scores for Hanoi FC in the inter-zone semifinal of AFC Cup against Altyn Asyr on August 20, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa.
Nguyen Quang Hai dominated the votes for best free kick goal in AFC Cup history.

During the poll by Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Hai accumulated 96 percent of all votes (61,960 out of 64,542), followed by Indian striker Sunil Chhetri with three percent and Indonesian midfielder Gerald Pangkali at only one.

Hai’s wonder goal occurred during Hanoi FC’s 3-2 win against Turkmenistan side Altyn Asyr in their AFC Cup 2019, inter-zone semi-final first leg clash, when he pocketed the ball in his favorite spot, the top left corner.

"Anywhere just outside the penalty area is Nguyen Quang Hai territory and in the 2019 inter-zone semi-final first leg, he showed Turkmenistan's Altyn Asyr exactly what he was capable of with a delightful effort that left goalkeeper Mammet Orazmuhammedov flat-footed. With Hanoi FC a goal down as half-time approached, the midfielder bent the ball around the wall to level the scores with his first of two stunning goals in a 3-2 victory for the Vietnamese champions," AFC wrote.

After the win, Hanoi FC drew 2-2 with Altyn Asyr in the second leg to enter the inter-zone final play-off, where they lost to North Korean club April 25 SC.

Hai, 23, scooped silver at the Vietnam Golden Ball 2019 ceremony on May 26, finishing behind Hanoi FC midfielder Do Hung Dung. Both Dung and Hai won SEA Games 30 gold, alongside the V. League 1 trophy and National Cup. Hai won the golden ball in 2018 and bronze in 2017. He is the only player to have won golden, silver and bronze.

In 2019, Hai played in 57 games including 13 AFC Cup fixtures with a total field time of 1,447 minutes, scoring 14 and assisting 14 goals.

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