Vietnam and their trouble with goalkeepers


Dang Van Lam in the AFF Cup final between Vietnam and Malaysia on December 16, 2018. – Đặng Văn Lâm trong trận chung kết AFF Cup giữa Việt Nam và Malaysia vào ngày 16 tháng 12 năm 2018.


[Reading level: B2 – Upper Intermediate]

With the King’s Cup approaching, the underwhelming performances of the national team’s goaltenders are putting their head coach in a tricky situation.


Coach Park Hang-seo will name his squad for the Thai tournament at the end of May. But the goalkeeper’s spot remains a tricky one for him with all three goalies in the national team facing questions about their club form.


Dang Van Lam, the main man, played superbly in the 2018 AFF Cup that Vietnam won and 2019 Asian Cup where the team entered the last eight. Thai club Muangthong United then bought him for $500,000.


But he has had a horror run at the club so far, conceding 19 goals in 11 matches. Muangthong United have lost seven matches, drew two and only won two. Last year they finished fourth in the table, but now they are last among 16 clubs, and on the verge of relegation.


Lam’s understudies in the national team are having bad runs in the V. League 1, the top professional football league in Vietnam.


The third-choice goalkeeper, Nguyen Tuan Manh, is playing for Sanna Khanh Hoa FC and his season has panned out eerily like Lam’s. He has also conceded 19 goals but in just nine games, and his team are rock bottom in the 14-club table.


Bui Tien Dung, the second goaltender, has fared even worse, if that were possible. He was Vietnam’s main goalkeeper at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship where the team were runners-up and 2018 Asian Games where they finished fourth. Since the 2018 AFF Cup he has lost his place to Lam.


Bui Tien Dung in a training in Asian Games 2018. – Bùi Tiến Dũng trong buổi tập tại Asian Games 2018.

Dung has only played one game this season since joining Hanoi FC in January after losing his place in the team to Nguyen Van Cong. After a long time on the bench he finally got his chance on May 19 when the team played SHB Da Nang FC at home. The game ended with a 3-2 victory for Hanoi, but Dung didn’t perform well, conceding two goals, the first after he reacted too slowly to a free kick.


He admitted after the game: “I was looking forward to get onto the field and today the chance came. But I feel like I didn’t play well in this game. It was lucky the team still won.”


National coach Park might call on three other goalkeepers based on their league performance.


Cong must be first on the list. His splendid form was the reason Dung had been benched. He has conceded only eight goals this season. He played all of Hanoi FC’s matches last year and helped them win the V. League 1 trophy.


Nguyen Van Cong of Hanoi FC catches a penalty during a V-League match on March 6, 2019, securing his team’s 2-0 victory over Viettel. – Nguyễn Văn Công của Hà Nội FC bắt quả phạt đền trong trận đấu V-League vào ngày 6 tháng 3 năm 2019, bảo vệ chiến thắng 2-0 của đội mình trước Viettel.

Tran Nguyen Manh of Song Lam Nghe An FC is another promising candidate, having conceded only five goals in nine matches so far. Nguyen Thanh Thang of Ho Chi Minh City FC is also in prime form conceding just six while his team is atop the table with seven wins and two draws.


Will Park continue to place trust in familiar names or opt to blood new faces? That question will be answered when the squad is announced.


The King’s Cup will be played early next month. Vietnam will face hosts Thailand on June 5 at 3:30 p.m. while India will take on Curaçao at 7:45 p.m. (local time) the same day.


Winners of both matches will meet in the final on June 8, while the two eliminated teams will play a third place playoff match the same day. All four matches will take place in the northeastern province of Buriram in Thailand.


Vietnam’s Next Media said it has acquired the Vietnam broadcasting rights for the event and is finding a broadcaster for the country’s two matches, which will be reported live on VnExpress International.






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