HÀ NỘI — Coach Park Hang-seo, on April 8 announced the names of three over 23-year-old players who will be in Việt Nam’s line-up to compete at the upcoming Southeast Asian Games.
The South Korean picked midfield duo Đỗ Hùng Dũng and Nguyễn Hoàng Đức and striker Nguyễn Tiến Linh for the campaign to defend the title this May. All were members of the Việt Nam team that won a gold medal at the last SEA Games in 2019.
Dũng is currently the national senior team captain. The 28-year-old has just returned to action after several months out due to a leg injury, but his performance has persuaded his coaches at Hà Nội FC as well as Park and his assistants.
Đức, 24, has been a key player for Việt Nam in recent years and tournaments. He has just won the Golden Ball for the best player of the 2021 season.
Linh, 24, is a sharp forward. At the recent 2022 World Cup qualifying rounds, he netted eight goals, outscoring South Korean Son Heung-min (seven goals), Argentinean Lionel Messi (seven goals) and Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo (six goals).
Park’s decision to leave one of his key midfielders Nguyễn Quang Hải at home goes against the widespread expectations of the last few days.
Talented star Hải will end his contract with Hà Nội FC on April 12 and sign a contract with a foreign club. He might not return to serve Việt Nam at the SEA Games because the club has the right to keep its players.
“Selecting three over-23 players is an important step for an official tournament. Then, I need a little more time for a careful decision,” said Park, who made his draft list of players on April 5.
“I discussed things with my assistant before making the decision. We pick players based on tactics, and I think the current team is the best.”
Dũng, Đức and Linh will join their younger teammates on April 14 before the team moves to Phú Thọ Province for training a day later.
As the hosts, Việt Nam will have more time to practise at Việt Trì Stadium, the competition venue for Group A.
They will have two friendly matches here before the SEA Games.
The football tournament kicks off on May 6 when Việt Nam plays Indonesia. Their other matches are against the Philippines, Myanmar and East Timor.
The gold-medal game is on May 22. — VNS