The Local Game: 2023’s New Year resolutions for Vietnamese football

January 05, 2023 - 15:28
How do you replace a legend? It’s a question that I hope is keeping the head honchos of the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) up at night.


Coach Park Hang-seo is leaving his job as Việt Nam national team coach after the AFF Championship. Photo

Peter Cowan

They get a lot of stick, but I always get suckered into setting New Year’s resolutions for myself.

Maybe other people don’t need societal pressure to engage in some self-improvement, but personally, I need the kick in the hind parts to take a look at myself.

I suspect some of those running Vietnamese football share my lack of comfort with introspection, so to help them out, I’ve come up with a few resolutions for the beautiful game in this beautiful country.

Adequately replace Park Hang-seo

How do you replace a legend? It’s a question that I hope is keeping the head honchos of the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) up at night.

Park Hang-seo is the most successful coach in the country’s history and whoever succeeds the South Korean has big shoes to fill.

I won’t pretend I know the first thing about how to find a coach for an international team of Việt Nam’s calibre, so all I’ll say is I hope those in charge of the search put footballing matters first instead of political, commercial, financial or any other considerations.

Have a player succeed overseas

Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but if Vietnamese football is to develop to its full potential, Vietnamese players need to have success overseas.

The V.League 1 just isn’t a high enough level for the country’s top players but luckily this year, it looks like Việt Nam could have three stars plying their trade overseas.

Nguyễn Quang Hải will return to Pau FC in France after the AFF Championship, Nguyễn Công Phượng has moved to Yokohama FC in the Japanese top flight and it looks like out-of-contract forward Nguyễn Văn Toàn will move to a South Korean side, though that deal has yet to be confirmed.

But just what does success look like for each of them?

Simply sticking around for more than one season would be progress but for me, each has the talent to become a key member of their club squads, so that should be the goal.

Quang Hải has yet to do that, as otherwise Pau wouldn’t have released him for the AFF Championship. There’s still time, but he has to hit the ground running on his return to France.

Win a point in Women’s World Cup

The Vietnamese women’s team made history last year by qualifying for their first World Cup, so why not set their sights higher this year?

No one should be under any illusions as to Việt Nam’s ability to go far in the tournament in Australia – they won’t make it out of the group.

The gulf in resources in the women’s game between Việt Nam and teams like the USA and Netherlands means it’s unrealistic to expect coach Mai Đức Chung’s side to escape Group E.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t give a good showing and aim to take at least a point from the fourth team in the group, which will be the winner of a playoff between Thailand, Cameroon and Portugal. VNS