Tuesday, October 25 2016


VN football coach: who will take hot seat?

Update: February, 05/2016 - 09:29

Coach Henrique Calisto remains as a viable option should none of the Vietnamese managers take up on VFF's offer.— Photo dantri.com.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — There is a saying in Viet Nam that goes, "daughter-in-law of a hundred families" to describe a position who must try to please everyone.

One could hardly find a better term to portray the post of Viet Nam national football team head coach, who will also take charge of the country's U23 team.

VFF's sources have confirmed the federation is looking at Vietnamese candidates for the post, a move which was likely inspired by the success of Viet Nam's arch rival, the Thai national team, who has been doing quite well under the Thai manager and former V-League player Kiatisuk Senamuang.

It's no doubt an honour to lead the national teams. On the other hand, the post has always been considered as a "hot seat", certainly not for the faint of heart.

There is much speculation over who would be a good fit to lead the teams.

Several names, however, were believed to be short-listed by the VFF thanks to their past success in managing V-League's clubs and other national teams:

Nguyen Huu Thang, former coach of two-time V-League champion Song Lam Nghe An and respected captain of Viet Nam national team in the 90s.

Hoang Anh Tuan, Viet Nam current U19's coach and the only Vietnamese coach to have acquired international football coaching Pro Licence.

Mai Duc Chung, current Viet Nam women national's head coach, whose duties to lead the female team ends this March and therefore will be available exclusively to take charge of the male teams.

Immense pressure

The Viet Nam Football Federation (VFF) decision to sack Japanese Toshiya Miura last Thursday with about three months left on his contract illustrated the federation's frustration over the national team's performance during the Miura's reign.

The move raised quite a bit of controversy as the Japanese coach, in fact, had managed to fulfill all of VFF's objectives. Even the U23's recent defeats at the Asian Championship last month were seen as non-shocking and predictable given the level of the competition.

Under his management, Viet Nam national team made it to the AFF Cup 2014 semi-final, while the U23 squad won a bronze medal at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore and reached the last eight of the Asian Games in Incheon before entering this year U23 championship finals for the first time.

It's safe to assume that whoever is going to replace Miura would be facing much higher goals. The VFF did not intend to hide that as the federation's deputy president Doan Nguyen Duc told the press that the goal was set to win gold at the 2017 SEA Games and go to the final of ASEAN Football (AFF) Cup later this year.

In addition, there were reasons to believe that the VFF decided to end its contract with Miura early because he was not able to bring out the full potential of the up-and-coming young footballers from the Hoang Anh Gia Lai-Arsenal JMG football academy, who were expected to form the core of the Viet Nam national team.

Many of VFF's high ranking officials had doubt over Miura's style, which favoured physically-strong players over technicians, implying that the next coach's style must be able to take advantage of Vietnamese players' technical skills.

Whoever is taking the hot seat, therefore, would have to figure out a way to showcase both "beautiful football" and deliver sound results.

There have been also tales which did not end happily for coach of the Vietnamese team as the VFF is known to be quite "temperamental" in its dealings.

In November 2013, VFF suspended then U23 coach Hoang Van Phuc after the team failed to win the champion title in BTV Cup 2013, an international friendly meant to serve as a warm up before the 2013 SEA Games.

The suspension was later reported to be a strong blow to the team's morale and somewhat undermined its effort to prepare for the regional competition.

Contacts have been made to discuss who would take charge of the football national and U23 teams. A decision is expected to be made after the traditional Tet holidays, which will last until mid-February, leaving the national team barely a month before the 2018 World Cup's qualification round, which takes place in March.

While largely in favour of finding a Vietnamese coach, VFF always have the option of going with yet another foreign coach.

Coach Henrique Calisto remains as a viable option should none of the Vietnamese managers take up on VFF's offer.

The Portuguese manager, who made a miracle with Viet Nam by winning the ASEAN Football Championship 2008 and is considered the most successful coach to have led Viet Nam national teams, is currently not in charge of any football team and has left the possibility of returning to Viet Nam open in an exchange with the press in 2012. — VNS

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