Striker Cong Vinh has been a pillar of the national football squad since 2008.
Under the guidance of Portuguese coach Henrique Calisto, Vietnam became the top team in Southeast Asia in 2008, after it won the championship of the AFF Cup. Calisto left Vietnam in 2011 but the team still works on the values built up by the Portuguese coach.
Most of the team’s members are still old faces from 2008, for example goalkeeper Duong Hong Son, fullbacks Quang Thanh and Viet Hung, midfielders Thanh Luong and Tan Tai, strikers Viet Thang and Cong Vinh.
After the AFF Cup 2008, Cong Vinh has suffered a lot of wounds. The audience is interested in his love story with singer Thuy Tien rather than his football career. Goalkeeper Hong Son is criticized for his lack of eagerness to contribute to the national team. Thanh Luong and Tan Tai’s performance has not been as good as before.
The team is now led by Calisto’s assistant, Phan Thanh Hung, who is said to be highly influenced by Calisto’s style, while Calisto’s playing-style has become familiar to Vietnam’s rivals.
Hung has recruited several new players - Van Quyet, Buu Ngoc, Trong Hoang, Duy Nam – but experts said that the number of new faces is not enough to make big changes in the team. The team’s pillars are still old members.
“In the last four years, besides several new players, the Vietnamese team has been the same. The playing-style is the same, personnel are the same and the goal is also the same: being the AFF champion. The team is getting old day by day,” said expert Nguyen Van Vinh.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s rivals are changing. The Philippines has recruited many foreign players for the national team, through giving them the Filipino citizenship. Malaysia and Myanmar have also made great progress.
To be successful at the AFF Cup 2012, Vietnam has to prepare carefully. Compiled by Nam Nguyen