Update: 07:47 | 02/02/2019
From the Asian U23 Championships a year ago through the Asian Games, the AFF Cup and recently the Asian Cup, Vietnamese footballers have shone on the international stage.
Now, the team’s stars need to play club football abroad to reach their full potential. Fox Sports Asia recently named five young players likely to move abroad after the Asian Cup, including midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai.
Nguyen Quang Hai (L) turned in more stunning performances at the Asian Cup.
It is not the first time Fox’s reporters have urged Hai to leave Hanoi.
Last September, Scott McIntyre published an article on foxsportsasia.com entitled ‘Quang Hai needs to move abroad now’. McIntyre heaped praise on the player but slammed his current employers for holding him back, writing.
At the time, it was reported that the 21-year-old and Hanoi FC officials believed it was better for him to sharpen his skills locally for the next two or three years, though Hai has yet to comment publicly on the issue.
While Hai has stayed quiet, his teammate Nguyen Cong Phuong has spoken up.
Speaking to media after Vietnam were knocked out of the UAE tournament by Japan, the striker said: "I want to have the chance to play abroad, Japan or Europe, however, it is not easy because of rules and contracts with my clubs. Some European clubs have contacted me but my (Hoang Anh Gia Lai) club managers refused. I hope these issues will change soon and I can make my dream come true. It is also a way I could help the national team which is aiming for a berth in the World Cup."
The player from Nghe An province, who notched two goals and one assist in the Asian Cup, was tipped by Fox Sports Asia as likely to be the subject of big transfer offers after the tournament, possibly from Thailand or Japan for a second spell.
Steve Darby, former coach of the Việt Nam national women’s team, told e-newspaper
Darby added that local clubs should work with other sides from more developed football countries to create opportunities for their players to move on to gain experience.
He said foreign clubs had contacted Hai but Hanoi did not let him go, possibly holding out for a bigger transfer fee, which is within their rights, but something that could stunt the player’s growth.
The best plan could be a loan contract, Darby suggested.
The first Vietnamese footballer to play in Europe, retired striker Le Cong Vinh, also thinks Hai needs to make the jump now.
Earlier this month, during a visit to Vietnam, Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke also said Vietnamese players should leave the country to improve.
Speaking to fans in HCM City he said there were many players with potential in Asia and Vietnam in particular but they needed better conditions to develop.
He also said tournaments in Asia were not as competitive as those in Europe, so to push themselves footballers should go abroad and play at higher levels.
One of the national team’s stars has already taken the plunge, with goalkeeper Dang Van Lam sealing a dream move after the Asian Cup to Muangthong United of Thailand.