|Trần Nguyên Mạnh is delighted to be back with the national team again after five years of being left out due to past mistakes. Photo courtesy of VFF|
HÀ NỘI — Trần Nguyên Mạnh is a man on a mission.
Five years after his mistake cost Việt Nam a place in the final of the 2016 AFF Cup, he is back with the national team determined to make amends.
The second leg of the semi-final against Indonesia at Mỹ Đình stadium is a night Mạnh wants to forget.
On 75 minutes, his unnecessary foul resulted in red card for the goalkeeper. Having made all their permitted substitutions, defender Quế Ngọc Hải was forced to go in goal.
The match finished 2-2 but Việt Nam lost 4-3 over the two legs and missed out on a place in the final.
Mạnh spent the next five years out in the cold, never once being selected for the national team.
But now the 29-year-old is back in the picture, and he is determined to make right the errors of five years ago.
“I’m very happy to be given the opportunity by coach Park Hang-seo,” Mạnh said.
“After receiving the trust from the coach, I was determined to prove myself and regain my best form as well as the trust of the fans.
“I always tell myself to do the best as there are many challenges ahead. If I continue to be trusted, I will not let anyone down."
Being called up to replace injured goalkeepers Đặng Văn Lâm and Nguyễn Văn Toản, Mạnh feels the pressure of being the team’s number one, the feeling he once had five years ago, but things are getting better after the solid performance in the 2-0 win against Laos.
In the 65th minute, he saved a header from Laos’ star Billy Ketkeophomphone. Eight minutes later, in a one-on-one situation with the former Ligue 1 striker, Mạnh again produced a stunning save to keep the clean sheet.
“That situation happened very quickly," said the Viettel goalkeeper.
"When the opposing striker was about to finish, I also tried to read the situation. My save is based on my judgment with a little bit of luck.
“I was really nervous when I got called up to the this AFF Cup. But after training, I feel more confident.
“Now, I really want to assert myself. I will set goals, be determined to play well in each match to help the team achieve the best results.”
Park's men will next face Malaysia on Sunday and if they are to come away with a second win, a better performance will be needed than in their opening game. VNS