|Nguyễn Trọng Hiếu of Hải Phòng is expected to shine in the near future. Photo vinalive.vn
HÀ NỘI — Midfielder Nguyễn Trọng Hiếu of the V.League 1’s Hải Phòng is one of the notable names in the 36-player squad for the third gathering of the U19 Việt Nam team this year.
For the training camp from August 20 to August 30, coach Philippe Troussier selected a lot of new players for the upcoming AFC U19 Football Championship to be held in Uzbekistan later this year.
The French coach said he has found many good players not only for the upcoming season but also "bright gems" for Vietnamese football looking towards the 2026 World Cup.
One of the "gems that need to be honed" is Hiếu.
“Hiếu has a big figure and a very quick reaction. He has the qualities of a good player. This is his first time for the U19 team, so it takes time to adapt. I think he will be qualified and deserves to have a place in the national team through what he has shown,” said Troussier.
Hiếu was born in 2001 in Hải Phòng and attended the junior football training centre of Hải Phòng before being promoted to train with the senior team at the age of 17.
In an interview, Hiếu once shared: "My disadvantage is not to play in any U19 tournaments to present myself, but at the club, I still try to practise hard so that national coaches can see me."
The 19-year-old quickly won the favour of the national underage team coach.
In his debut for Hải Phòng in the match against Nam Định on June 23, Hiếu left a deep impression when contributing to his side's 2-0 victory.
Coach Phạm Anh Tuấn was very satisfied with Hiếu’s performance.
“Hiếu is young, but quite stubborn and not afraid of any players. Observing him during training, I feel that I can trust him when bringing him on the match,” said Tuấn.
Hiếu is one of the 10 youngest players in the top-flight alongside Phạm Trung Thành of HCM City, Trần Hoàng Bảo of Bình Dương and Hoàng Văn Hải of Thanh Hóa.
As well as a height of 1.8m, dexterity and quick reflexes, Hiếu is comfortable on the ball, which has his coaches salivating at his potential.
"Because Hiếu is a new player, there is lateness compared to the other players that I have worked with, but because he has such potential qualities, I am still patient, giving him the opportunity,” Troussier said.
From 2026, 48 teams will play in the World Cup instead of 32, giving the Asian region 8.5 spots in the finals and Việt Nam a greater opportunity to compete at the highest level.
Preparations to achieve this goal have already begun and players born in 2001-2004 with a good height and body like Hiếu are being sought by coach Troussier to cope with the physicality of the modern game.
To qualify for the 2026 World Cup and help the "bright gems" grown in confidence, tournaments like AFC U19 event are crucial.
"We need a new wind, a new generation. These players will be at their most mature in 2026. I believe, 50 per cent of these players will be the core of Việt Nam team by the year 2026. Of course, the players born in 1995-97 like Nguyễn Quang Hải can still play at that time but will be almost 30 years old," said Troussier. — VNS