Striker Nguyễn Anh Đức (right) in the match with Phố Hiến in the V.League 2. — Photo thethao247.vn
HÀ NỘI — When former top national team striker Nguyễn Anh Đức joined Long An FC in the V.League 2 last month, it was unclear if the 36-year could contribute on the pitch at his advanced age.
Those doubts were well and truly put to bed on Sunday when he scored his side's only goal in a 1-1 draw with Pho Hien.
The difference in ability between V.League 1 and V.League 2 forwards goes some way to explaining why an older player can drop down a league and shine.
In the V.League 2 2018, Y Thăng Êban scored 15 goals for Đắk Lắk and was the top scorer of the event. Previously, he played in the top-flight for Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) but struggled to make his mark.
After Êban, the division's top scorer in 2019 was Nguyễn Xuân Nam with 14 goals for Phố Hiến. When he played for HCM City FC in the V.League 1 last year, he only scored three goals.
After Nam, Nguyễn Công Thành led the scoring charts in 2020 with 12 goals for Đồng Tháp. However, he hasn’t played a single minute in this year’s V.League 1 for his new club HCM City.
All these players are accomplished V.League 2 forwards but couldn't replicate their form one division up, whereas an established V.League 1 player can shine when they drop down a league.
In the V.League 1 in 2019 for Becamex Bình Dương, Đức scored five goals in 12 matches, but struggled the following season for HAGL, with no goals in a mere 190 minutes on the pitch.
Striker Nguyễn Anh Đức seen in a recent friendly match between Long An and An Giang. — Photo longan.gov.vn
Long An need Đức
Long An’s chairman Võ Thành Nhiệm said Long An had been talking to Đức since January and waited impatiently for his signature and they gave him a one-year deal, twice as long as his contract at HAGL.
“We expect Đức to improve the weaknesses of our attack,” said coach Ngô Quang Sang.
Last season, barely avoided Long An relegation after scoring only 13 goals in the 16-match season.
“Long An scored too badly last season. That was the main reason leading to many failures. Therefore, Đức’s appearance brings a lot of hope as well as expectations for the team. With the bravery and professional experience of working with many foreign coaches in the national team, hopefully, Đức will help us, especially now the team has a lot of young players.
“We hope Đức will improve Long An's ability to score goals, reducing the pressure on the midfield and the defence,” said coach Sang.
In the first match of the V.League 2 on Sunday, Đức played 90 minutes and scored a goal from the penalty spot, helping Long An gain a point away to Phố Hiến. The AFF Cup 2018 champion wore the captain's armband and played impressively.
"I feel very happy to be back in football. I am happy to continue with my passion, regardless of whether people say I'm out of date or not. People should look at reality,’ said Đức.
“Everyone should watch the performance of a player on the pitch and then judge. In the world, many old players can still play football because they prepare well, have good skills and ensure their physical strength,” Đức added.
The forward looks set to play a key role as a goalscorer and mentor to the younger players on his new team.
Coach Park Hang Seo has revealled Striker Nguyễn Anh Đức is still in his plan for the national team. — Photo trangthethao.vn
Đức played for Bình Dương in the V.League 1 from 2006 to 2019, scoring 116 goals in 335 matches. He won four V.League 1 titles, four National Super Cups, two National Cups and reached the semi-finals of the AFC Cup in 2009. He won the Vietnamese Golden Ball award in 2015 as well as the Vietnamese Silver Ball award in 2017. He was the top scorer in 2017.
He was also a key part of the national team that won the AFF Cup in 2018.
Đức is also a prosperous businessman with the Anh Đức Sports trademark and considered one of the richest footballers in the country. In addition to shoes, Đức also produces clothing and has a chain of restaurants and hotels, along with the pepper brand 'Bác Bảy'. — VNS