|Quan Văn Chuẩn (right) believes he did what had to be done against Saudi Arabia, and would do it again. Photo courtesy of AFC|
HÀ NỘI — From starting the tournament as second-string goalkeeper to being sent off against the eventual winners of the AFC U23 Asian Cup, Quan Văn Chuẩn certainly had a tournament to remember.
In the opening 2-2 draw against Thailand, first-choice goalkeeper Văn Toản fumbled a shot and conceded in the 34th minute. The Hải Phòng shot-stopper misjudged the flight path and the ball ended up in the back of the net.
The crucial mistake not only cost Việt Nam a goal but also ended Toản's campaign. The 22-year-old injured his fingers and had to be subbed off.
While Toản’s injury was unfortunate, it opened the door for Chuẩn.
With good decisions and high qualities passes on the ground, Chuẩn helped keep Việt Nam's backline solid, giving more space for full-backs Phan Tuấn Tài and Vũ Tiến Long to push up on the attack. One of these moves led to Long’s long-range screamer that secured a precious 1-1 draw against South Korea in the second match of Group C.
However, it wasn't all glory for Chuẩn, at least not in the traditional sense. He was given a red card in the quarterfinal against Saudi Arabia, who eventually went on to win the tournament.
“For me, the AFC Asian Cup is full of emotion and experiences,” Chuẩn said to Thanh Niên (Youth Newspaper).
“At the start, I was not chosen to be the number one goalkeeper of the team for this tournament. But, after Văn Toản’s injury, I was given a chance by coach Gong Oh-kyun.
“Many people asked me whether I was nervous, but I wasn't. It’s because, in these stages, everyone must be ready, even if you’re the second choice in your position. Everyone must do their best and I did my best.”
In the 78th minute of the quarter-final, Chuẩn came marauding out of his box to clear the ball but fouled Al-Buraikan in the process. The 21-year-old was shown a red card for his efforts but said he has no regrets.
“Of course, I’d do it again,” Chuẩn said.
“The Saudi Arabian player was really quick and I had no choice but to move forward to cover up.
“I think he also tried to collide with me to get me sent off. Everything can happen in a football match, but I am always ready to face the consequences.
“After I was sent off, striker Nhâm Mạnh Dũng replaced me and he did a really fine job.” VNS