Hoàng Anh Gia Lai’s striker Toàn can play in K.League 1

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Hoàng Anh Gia Lai’s striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn (left) is believed good enough to play in Asian leagues. Photo of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai FC

HÀ NỘI — Coach Kim Sang-sik of Jeonbuk Motors appreciated Hoàng Anh Gia Lai’s striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn ahead of their AFC Champions League match on Friday at Thống Nhất Stadium in HCM City.

The South Korean trainer said many Vietnamese players are good and some can play in higher-class tournaments abroad in South Korea and some other leagues in Asia like (Nguyễn Công) Phượng and Toàn of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai. They have showed their progress in terms of technique and physique.

“Personally I believe player No 9 Văn Toàn can play in the K.League 1. He really impresses me,” said Kim at the press-briefing on Thursday.

Toàn performed impressively in the first two matches of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai against Yokohama Marinos and Sydney FC. Although he did not score but made challenges to these teams’ defence and received praise from his coach Kiatisuk Senamuang.

In respond to Kim’s comments, Toàn said: “It is an honour to be appreciated. It is an encouragement to me during this time when I have lost my peak and felt unconfident.”

“I am working hard and try to get back to the best at the Champions League,” said Toàn.

“Playing abroad is a dream of all players. My contract with Hoàng Anh Gia Lai will go to the end this year. However, at present I just want to stay focused on this tournament and showing my abilities.

“My teammates and I want to tell everybody that we are not here for friendly matches and go home. We strive for individual game although Jeonbuk is one of Asian top clubs. Hope that we will have better performance against them,” he said.

Coach Kiatisuk also supported his players to go out if receiving an offer.

He said Hoàng Anh Gia Lai wanted its players to go abroad to lift Vietnamese football level. The AFC Champions League is a platform for his players to introduce themselves internationally.

“We will show everything is us here and it would be great if scouts pick some players. Previously, none knew about Hoàng Anh Gia Lai. Now, they do,” Kiatisuk said.

The Thai football legend said he shared his experience when playing oversea for his players and asked them to be ready to receive offers.

About Toàn, he said: “Toàn can play well in Southeast Asia region and some Asian countries. He owns good speed, technique and fitness. When going out, he would learn a lot and develop more.”

Third round match

In today match, coach Kim of Jeonbuk will welcome some of his key players back in action after they recover from the COVID-19.

He said these players would strengthen his team who played underpar in their first two matches.

“The next match against the home side is very important. They will be a tough challenge, especially with home ground support. Vietnamese players have also improved tremendously in recent times and we must not take them for granted,” Kim was quoted as saying on the-afc.com. “We will be very well prepared for Hoàng Anh Gia Lai.”

On the home side, Kiatisuk said: “This is another big game for our team. The players are ready and looking forward to playing against the South Korean champions. I am confident my players will give their best against Jeonbuk.”

After two matches, Jeonbuk are at the leading position with four points in Group H while Hoàng Anh Gia Lai stay at the bottom with only one point. — VNS

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