By 2026, Việt Nam's national football team will include young aces currently playing with the U15 and U18 teams. — Photo thethao247.vn
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam has targeted booking a place in the 2026 World Cup, according to the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) deputy chairman Trần Quốc Tuấn.
“The World Cup 2026 will be held in the US, Canada and Mexico," said Tuấn. "At this event, FIFA approved an expansion to 48 teams, with a format of 16 groups of three nations. This means Asia will have seven or eight slots to compete for. This helps Việt Nam and other countries in Southeast Asia have a great chance to play in the world’s biggest football tournament."
“Although it will be very difficult, we will make every effort," Tuấn said. "Besides national senior teams, we will invest in U15 and U18 footballers to help us earn a place in the tournament."
Tuấn said this is a positive time for Vietnamese football as it has received great interest from fans, businesses and even State leaders.
“The VFF has built plans and relationships to bring necessary conditions for senior and young teams,” said Tuấn.
Việt Nam ranked 15th in Asia in the FIFA rankings in June. The team will have to improve to qualify from a crowded Asian field in one of seven or eight slots.
The national football teams have achieved great advances in recent times including being the runners-up of the AFC U23 Championship in 2018, finishing fourth in the Asian Games in 2019, winning the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2018 and being one of the eight best teams in the Asian Cup earlier this year.
If Việt Nam are to gain a slot in the World Cup, the players from its "golden generation" will be an experienced and formidable squad by the time of the tournament. Nguyễn Công Phượng, midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải, defender Đoàn Văn Hậu and midfielder Trần Đình Trọng will likely lead the way, and will be joined by younger stars currently in the youth teams.
According to experts, the U18 team under the guidance of coach Hoàng Anh Tuấn have many outstanding players such as Bùi Tiến Sinh (Viettel), Trần Mạnh Quỳnh (Sông Lam Nghệ An-SLNA), Nguyễn Thanh Khôi (Hoàng Anh Gia Lai), Phạm Xuân Tạo (Đà Nẵng) and Kha Tấn Tài (Đồng Tháp). The U15 class also has the potential to develop strong players through Ngô Văn Bắc (SLNA) and Nguyễn Thái Quốc Cường (Hoàng Anh Gia Lai).
The U15 and U18 teams are training in Japan to sharpen their skills and prepare for the AFF U15 Championship from July 27 to August 9 in Thailand and the AFF U18 Championship in Việt Nam from August 5 to 18.
SLNA, which won the National U15 Football Championship, contributed nine players to the U15 national team.
According to Tuấn, SLNA’s young players have proved very skilful and some of them should develop enough to join the team in its quest to qualify for the World Cup. — VNS