|Hoàng Anh Gia Lai’s striker Nguyễn Công Phượng (left) plays in the U21 International Football Tournament last month. Phượng is expected to gain his form to shine at the V.League. — Photo nongnghiep.vn
HÀ NỘI — Rising star striker Nguyễn Công Phượng has not impressed supporters with his performance in the first round match of the V.League, which was held last weekend.
Phượng was one of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai’s two strikers, but both failed to score, leading to the team losing 0-1 to SHB Đà Nẵng, who were playing without their key players because of injuries.
The loss has been attributed partly to the lack of experience of the 21-year-old players, who were part of the National Premier League two years.
Phượng first played in the league in 2014. Last year, he was on a loan contract to Japan, where he spent most of his time on the bench. His unsuccessful stint abroad prompted Hoàng Anh Gia Lai president Đoàn Nguyên Đức to call him back, though the Japanese club Mito Hollyhock wanted to extend his contract.
Last month, Phượng was part of the national team, which suffered failure at the ASEAN Football Federation Cup. His performance had disappointed fans.
Last Saturday, during the V.League game, Phượng was totally controlled by SHB Đà Nẵng’s defenders, who kept a close watch on him, giving him no room to score. In 90 minutes, Phượng managed only three passes and four finishes.
“Their scoring skills are not good. These weak points have not improved, especially when they face strong defence,” said coach Nguyễn Quốc Tuấn, adding that the duo, especially Phượng, needs more time to shape up.
“Phượng is one of the players I like the most because of his character. But he had no good performance in 2016. Hoàng Anh Gia Lai must come up with a special programme to push him up, otherwise they will lose a talented player,” said Nguyễn Sỹ Hiển, chairman of Việt Nam Football Federation’s National Coaching Council. “Phượng also has to adjust his playing style so that he can play his advantages.”
Well-known commentator Vũ Quang Huy backed Phượng. “It is only one match, so it is too soon to talk much about wither Hoàng Anh Gia Lai or striker Phượng. In my opinion, he is a quality player who is facing a problem of psychology. By round four or five, we will see him competing well.”
Nguyễn Tấn Anh, an official from Hoàng Anh Gia Lai, said the team managers and his teammates would not put any pressure on Phượng, but would create the best conditions for him to regain his form. In the second round, he hoped that the familiar environment and fresh air in Pleiku would help Phượng.
The striker also appealed to people to be patient with him. “Returning home and getting back with my teammates are great. Fans, do not be so hard on me because I need more time. Football is my life, I will do everything for it,” he said.
In the next match, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai will host Hải Phòng, who also lost their first match 0-1 to Sài Gòn FC.
It will be a great opportunity for the former champions, who always perform better on home turf in Pleiku City in the central highland, where the weather conditions and altitude are different from other parts of the country.
In this match, coach Tuấn will welcome back striker Trần Minh Vương, who missed the first game because of an injury.
Vương, who was voted the best young player of 2014, is a member of the national U20 squad. Not a regular member of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai’s first team, he often plays in different positions, but among their three strikers, Vương has the best scoring capability.
In 2016, when Phượng was in Japan and Nguyen Văn Toàn played for more than 1,500 minutes without a goal, Vương was put on the field and did a good job, scoring eight goals in 24 matches. He was the team’s best scorer.
With Phượng’s return, coach Tuấn will have more options to set up his forward line in his 4-4-2 formation.
The Hoàng Anh Gia Lai-Hải Phòng match will telecast live on VTV6 channel from 5pm on January 13. — VNS