Four years is a long time to wait for anyone, but when you’re as accomplished as Nguyễn Văn Quyết, the last 46 months must have felt like a lifetime.
When Hà Nội FC’s captain lined up for his country in a friendly against Singapore in HCM City last week, it was his first international appearance since November 2018.
It’s not unusual for players to be in and out of international squads, after all, football is a competitive pursuit and there’s always someone gunning for your place.
But someone with the resume of Văn Quyết being left out is unusual.
Over that four-year period, he’s probably been the best domestic player in the V.League 1, as evidenced by him being awarded the league’s player of the season title in 2018 and 2020, as well as the Golden Ball in 2020.
Văn Quyết was a key player for the national team before coach Park Hang-seo took the job in 2017 and kept his place in the early days of the South Korean’s reign.
Whatever he did or didn’t do to become persona non grata is something of a mystery to me and I think most fans and media types alike.
I’ve seen some speculation that Văn Quyết doesn’t fit Park’s playing style or hasn’t been able to adapt to his tactics and if either is the case, I’d say the fault is with Park.
Just take a look at what the number 10 did against Singapore.
While Việt Nam eventually cruised to a 4-0 win, three of those goals came in the second half, and most of the first period was a stodgy affair.
It took a low, rasping drive from distance by Văn Quyết to open the scoring in the 37th minute to calm home nerves.
The fantastic individual effort showed the talent the man has and frankly, if a coach can’t find some way to use a talent like that in a 23-man squad, something is wrong.
Things have obviously worked out well for Park, given all the success the national team has achieved in the last four years, but that doesn’t mean leaving Văn Quyết out wasn’t a blunder.
Let’s face it, Việt Nam isn’t exactly brimming with talent in the forward positions, so it’s always been curious that Văn Quyết couldn’t get into the squad in front of clearly inferior players, even if they did have youth on their side.
Perhaps a couple of moments of magic from his right boot would have made the difference in a World Cup qualifier or two, or maybe at the Asian Cup in 2019.
We’ll never know if Văn Quyết could have inspired the team to even greater heights, but let’s hope his return to the fold isn’t short-lived. VNS