Update: 20:17 | 22/09/2021
FIFA has picked out five standout youngsters from the group stage of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021, with 23-year-old Vietnamese Nguyen Van Hieu standing side by side with stars from Morocco, Brazil, Uzbekistan and Portugal.
Van Hieu was given the honour following his impressive display during Vietnam’s journey towards securing a second consecutive knockout berth in the World Cup arena.
Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Hieu (L) is a promising talent of Vietnamese futsal.
Particularly, the 1998-born player impressed strongly with a brilliant personal showing in their second Group D match against Panama, leading the ball from the midfield through three Panama players and goalie Hernandez before finishing off from a narrow angle.
Van Hieu’s goal contributed decisively to Vietnam’s 3-2 victory and marked a turning point, thus clearing the way for Pham Minh Giang’s side to advance to the round of 16.
“Van Hieu thwarted a Panama attack with an excellent tackle inside his own half, whizzed the length of the court, shrugged off two challenges, rounded the goalkeeper and cut the ball from an acute angle,” FIFA used beautiful words to describe Hieu’s goal against Panama.
“Van Hieu had never even played the sport. He took it up in 2018, became a Vietnam international just 12 months later, and is now dazzling at Lithuania 2021,” FIFA emphasised in an article on its website.
FIFA also cited Vietnam coach Pham Minh Giang describing Van Hieu as a promising talent of Vietnamese futsal whose playing philosophy is “very up-to-date”.
Other youngsters in FIFA’s top five included Yousef Jouad (Morocco), Leozinho (Brazil), Nishonov (Uzbekistan), and Zicky (Portugal).
Tonight (September 22), Nguyen Van Hieu and teammates will jumpstart their Round of 16 campaign with a clash against defending Futsal World Cup runners-up Russia, who convincingly won Group B with nine points from three straight wins against Egypt (9-0), Uzbekistan (4-2) and Guatemala (4-1).
It will be an interesting clash as the two teams also clashed in the knockout stage at the World Cup in Colombia five years ago, during which the Russians saw off the Golden Stars 7-0.
Nothing much has changed this time as the previous World Cup runners-up and world No. 4 Russia remain the higher-rated side, but Vietnam will definitely stir up a surprise with their excellent fighting spirit.