HÀ NỘI — With the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 just a year away, the homepage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has just published an article identifying the top six Asian stars who are expected to shine at the event, including Vietnamese striker Huỳnh Như.
“Việt Nam's qualification for their first FIFA Women's World Cup Finals is just reward for Như who has been so integral in the Southeast Asian side's phenomenal improvement,” the the-afc.com said.
“The 30-year-old Như has been a national team regular since 2011 and the forward's goals have powered Việt Nam from one success to another. The FIFA Women's World Cup, however, will be a challenge at a different level altogether and Việt Nam will need the talismanic Như to be at her best to power them in Australia and New Zealand 2023,” the website added.
Besides Như, the AFC also named five other stars: Sam Kerr of Australia, Wang Shanshan of China, Saki Kumagai of Japan, Ji So-yun of South Korea and Sarina Bolden of the Philippines.
South Korean Ji has recently called time on a hugely successful career with English side Chelsea to return to South Korea. Ji will be crucial if the Taeguek Ladies are to advance to the knockout stage for a second time since 2015, with their campaigns in 2003 and 2019 ending at the first hurdle.
While Kerr, Australia's all-time leading scorer, will be looking to continue from where she left off in 2021-22 ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup on home soil in 12 months.
A fabulous 2021-22 season included 40 goals in 41 matches for club and country – 29 in 30 for Chelsea, 11 in 11 for Australia – and included a swag of individual honours in addition to the League and Cup double.
Kerr’s second successive FA Women’s Super League Golden Boot was her seventh such honour across three leagues in the last six years and Kerr also took home the Top Scorer Award from the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022, netting seven goals in four matches.
Meanwhile, Như is one of the most prominent players in Vietnamese women's football. She has won the Golden Ball award four times. She also made important contributions to the Vietnamese women's team to win gold medals at the SEA Games 2017, 2019 and 2022, along with the AFF Cup 2019 championship.
Although the Vietnamese women's team were unsuccessfully at the recent Southeast Asian Women’s Football Championship, she still left a strong mark with seven goals. She is the best scorer in the history of Vietnamese women's football with 59 goals for the national team. — VNS