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Vietnamese goalkeeper struggles for play time at Japanese club

By Hoang Nguyen   May 9, 2021 | 11:08 pm PT
Vietnamese goalkeeper struggles for play time at Japanese club
Dang Van Lam during a training session of Cerezo Osaka. Photo courtesy of Cerezo Osaka.
Dang Van Lam is currently training hard to compete for the main goalkeeper spot at Cerezo Osaka.

Since his introduction to the J1 League club in April, Lam is still waiting to play his first match. In Osaka’s most recent games, the 28-year-old keeper was omitted from the squad list.

Right now, Lam is merely the third choice for the guardian position, after South Korean keeper Kim Jin-hyeon and Japanese custodian Kenya Matsui.

Lam can be hopeful of a spot in the starting line since Kim, 33, and Matsui, 35, have both passed their prime.

"I need time to adapt," Lam told Japanese broadcaster NHK in a recent interview. "Everything is new here, from the culture to the lifestyle. It’s completely different from Vietnam or Russia."

"The most interesting part is the level of football here. Players are so professional. I love the atmosphere in the locker room. The challenging part is communication. I can't speak Japanese and my teammates can only speak a bit of English. But they know this is my first time in Japan so they offer me great support," Lam added.

The keeper, showing good forming during training, has swapped the football for tennis equivalents to sharpen his reflexes.

"I want to quickly adapt to the professional football environment here and I know the club and my teammates will help me with that. However, to achieve success will take some time," Lam commented.

Recently, Lam was crossed out from the national team list for World Cup Asian qualifiers. However, he will still join them in United Arab Emirates (UAE) to play important June matches.

Lam is half Vietnamese and half Russian. He spent his youth at Spartak Moscow and Dynamo Moscow. In 2011, he returned to Vietnam to play for Hoang Anh Gia Lai. After unsuccessful spells in Laos and Russia, his career finally took off when he joined Hai Phong FC in 2015. In the next four years, he retained his excellent form, got called up to the national team and became its number one choice.

In 2019, Lam joined Muangthong United and enjoyed 42 appearances for the club over two seasons. Earlier this year, he agreed to join Osaka and officially signed for the club in April.

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