A united team is more important than stars

March 13, 2022 - 10:12

President Nguyễn Hữu Thắng of HCM City FC plans to build a new playing style for his club. He wants a team that develops through the contribution of all players more than a club that relies on individual stars. Thắng speaks with Hồng Nam about the team’s preparation and expectations for 2022



President Nguyễn Hữu Thắng of HCM City FC. Photo baonghean.vn

Inner Sanctum: After two unsuccessful seasons, how did HCM City FC change to get such good results this year?

These were two seasons of ups and downs for HCM City for a number of reasons. This year, we decided to invite Trần Minh Chiến, our head coach. He is one of the best football coaches in Việt Nam.

Our foreign players were well integrated with the whole team, and also successfully extended contracts with qualified local players such as midfielder Võ Huy Toàn, forward Lâm Ti Phông and defender Sầm Ngọc Đức.

We have a strong ‘backbone’ to look at a high-position finish in 2022.

Inner Sanctum: You are using a local coach instead of a foreigner as in the past. What do you expect from Chiến?

Chiến is a former national striker. He has made his name internationally as a player and nationally as a coach. He understands Vietnamese football and HCM City FC.

With his outstanding contribution to football in many years, I believe that Chiến is the most suitable person for HCM City FC at this moment.

In addition, our club needs new fresh air which can push our players, seniors and newcomers, to achieve a better result this season.

I put all of my belief in him.

Inner Sanctum: HCM City’s youth football has been poor in national junior competitions for years. Will hiring Chiến, a coach with a great youth track record, help you improve?

After many years of decline, our youth football has recently received strong support from the city’s sport authority. These bodies care about training programmes for the next generation of sportsmen, not only in football but other sports.

President Nguyễn Hữu Thắng (left) poses for photos with HCM City's sponsor on their send-off ceremony for the 2022 season. Photo vtc.vn

Currently, we are working on training players of U15, U17, U19 and U21 at the Juventus Academy and a training centre at the Thống Nhất Stadium. We are expecting good quality with high potential among the future generations.

Our youth football training activities are going the right way following our integrated training system, and we will try to make full use of this potential in our first team.

Inner Sanctum: Former coach Alexandre Polking praised HCM City's local players as quick and eager to learn footballers, but the foreign players were not as good as what was wanted. How will you choose foreign players this season?

The pandemic has strongly influenced all fields and football was also affected. We met with difficulties in recruiting foreigners.

This year, we want players who are suitable with the head coach’s playing style and football philosophy.

We will contact familiar football agents who will introduce players for us. We will evaluate them. Though Vietnamese football is developing, it is still inferior to the average level of the continent and the world.

To sign contracts with high-quality players, we need to have abundant financial sources and create a promising football competition environment, as the V.League’s image grows strongly in Asia.

It is difficult to set criteria when recruiting foreign players, but they will be based on the coach’s requirements and ideas.

Only a coach who directly trains and uses players can know which ones suit his team and style.

Inner Sanctum: You once said that HCM City would play attacking football and try to dominate games. But last season, the team was defensive. Will there be a change this year?

Coach Chiến as a player had amazing skills. He always wanted his teams to manage ball possession better and dominate matches.


President Nguyễn Hữu Thắng (left) and HCM City head coach Nguyễn Minh Chiến. Photo laodong,vn 

He will transfer his thoughts to players and build a playing style that can bring us better results this year.

Inner Sanctum: There is no Lee Nguyễn or Nguyễn Công Phượng in your team this season, meaning that you have no big stars. Is this a chance to build a new style and team?

A team always needs stars and quality players. However, the real importance is having a team of equal-level players who look towards the same targets. Such a team will be much better than a team that relies totally on one or two stars.

Coach Chiến agrees with our point of view. He will try to build a good team depending on the whole, not individuals.

Inner Sanctum: Do you feel any pressure as you have spent a lot of money but could not repeat the team’s second-place finish in 2019?

Everyone wants his team to grab good results in football and receive supporters’ love and trust.

If the municipal sport authority and sponsors see our good results, we will get more investment. However, to be successful we need many things, and we have faced a big problem with the pandemic, which prevented us from preparing well in the last two years.

Football is harsh. You can have glory one day but drop to the bottom in disappointment the next. I have to accept all of this, do my best and then wait for everything to get better.

Inner Sanctum: Which teams do you consider 2022 V.League 1 title favourites? 

To me, teams like Hà Nội, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai and Viettel are the favourites. They have made their positions in the national premier league, and they will confirm their power this year.

However, there is real potential for clubs such as Topenland Bình Định, Sài Gòn and SHB Đà Nẵng. They will make the race to the top more aggressive and competitive.


President Nguyễn Hữu Thắng (third, left) speaks with players before training. Photo laodong.vn

Inner Sanctum: What targets have the team’s managers and coaching board set for this season?

HCM City FC has prepared really well for this season. The coaches and players, all of us consider every match a chance to contribute and give our best. If we have a chance to take the top place, it will be a dream come true.

We have not set a specific target prior to the tournament. We will see how our performance and results are after each match as well as how other teams play over several rounds. And then, we will decide on our final goal. VNS