Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Striker Nguyễn Công Phượng will lead Việt Nam’s football team’s frontline, according to coach Nguyễn Hữu Thắng who announced his 2019 Asian Cup qualification list yesterday in Hà Nội.
It is the first summons of the team this year and it is time for young players after veteran and experienced Lê Công Vinh and Phạm Thành Lương retired last December.
Phượng, captain of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai is one of 23 names that Thắng called in prepare for the tournament which will be organised later this month.
There are five forwards, seven midfielders, eight defenders and three goalkeepers.
Among them 11 are under-23 with four freshmen.
Phượng who has been national idol for many years now will be accompanied with his club teammate Nguyễn Văn Toàn and other teammates, Hồ Tuấn Tài of Sông Lam Nghệ An, Nguyễn Văn Quyết of Hà Nội FC and Lê Văn Thắng from Hải Phòng.
Quyết is the most experienced among them as he has been familiar with the team since 2011 while Thắng has only enjoyed the national jersey for a few times and Tài is to make his debut.
Other first-time players are midfielder Nguyễn Phong Hồng Duy (Hoàng Anh Gia Lai) and two defenders A Hoàng (Hoàng Anh Gia Lai) and Hoàng Văn Khánh (Sông Lam Nghệ An).
Hoàng received special care from the media as he is a Giẻ Triêng ethnic minority player.
It is a small group of people with a population of about 30.000 living mainly in the Central Highlands of Kon Tum Province and in the mountainous area of Quảng Nam Province.
The 22-year-old put up an impressive performance in front of coach Thắng and his assistants during eight round matches of the V. League.
All the new comers are members of the U-23 squad.
Coach Thắng put his belief in Lương Xuân Trường as a key midfielder of his team. Trường is playing for Gangwon FC in South Korea. He suffered an ankle ligament injury recently but still makes the list.
Thắng regretted that he could not have talented midfielder Nguyễn Tuấn Anh (Hoàng Anh Gia Lai), who will be missed as he has not recovered from his injury yet.
His absence opens doors for club teammate Hồng Duy to make his debut.
In the defence Thắng called veteran Trương Đình Luật (HCM City). His experience would help young teammates like Hoàng and Khánh.
Multi-faceted Vũ Văn Thanh, who is a striker for his team Hoàng Anh Gia Lai, will be a defender in the national team.
Since veteran goalkeeper Trần Nguyên Mạnh has been banned two games from international tournaments after last December’s ASEAN Football Federation Cup, he could not join.
Coach Thắng therefore gives the No 1 position to Huỳnh Tuấn Linh of Quảng Ninh Coal. Hải Phòng’s Đặng Văn Lâm and young Phí Minh Long of Hà Nội will be his substitutes.
Players will all gather on March 20 in Hà Nội.
Two days later they will warm up with a friendly match against Chinese Taipei at the Hàng Đẫy Stadium.
The last qualifier has 24 teams divided into six groups. They will compete in a two-leg round robin format. Two best teams of each group will advance to the Cup final where they will meet 12 other rivals who have already qualified.
Việt Nam are in Group C with Jordan, Cambodia and Afghanistan.
The team will travel to Dushanbe City’s Central Stadium of Tajiskistan on March 24 to train on a neutralised venue to make sure players’ safe.
Their first match is against Afghanistan on March 28.
They will return home and welcome Jordan at the Mỹ Đình Stadium on June 13. — VNS