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Vietnam’s hunger for success burns bright, says Nguyen Quang Hai


Hanoi: Midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai believes Vietnam are on course for more success ahead of the resumption of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

Having been a pivotal member of the squad since bursting onto the scene, Quang Hai is confident that this generation of Vietnam players have the ability to take the Southeast Asian nation to greater heights.

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Almost exactly three years ago, in a snowy Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre in China PR, Quang Hai scored a spectacular free-kick for Vietnam in their 2-1 defeat to Uzbekistan in the 2018 AFC U23 Asian Cup final.

Despite going home empty handed that day, Quang Hai remembers how the stunning goal dubbed ‘Rainbow in the Snow’ helped spur the team on.

“It was a very memorable tournament for me and the whole team especially under the testing weather conditions,” the 23-year-old told the-AFC.com.

“We had to play in the rain, most of us were not used to playing under such conditions but the whole team still competed with determination and solidarity to overcome the difficult games.

“There was news before the final that the match would be postponed due to the heavy snow. But we always had the focus and preparation to look forward to this match and reach the highest level of spirit and concentration.

“Although we did not achieve the best result, finishing runners-up was acknowledgement of the efforts of the whole team.”

Vietnam’s heartbreak in China would be their only blemish in 2018 as they went on to claim the AFF Championship at the end of the year with Quang Hai named the Most Valuable Player.

The midfielder won the domestic title with Hanoi FC later that year as well as the Vietnamese Footballer of the Year accolade.

Quang Hai was once again instrumental for Vietnam at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, scoring a sublime free-kick in their 2-0 Group D win against Yemen, en route to securing a place in the knockout stage.

The Golden Stars achieved further success when they won the SEA Games gold in 2019.

“After each tournament, I usually review what I have completed and what I have learned. I’m always motivated to continue to do better in the next tournament.

“I personally felt more confident after the 2018 final in China. I truly believe that Vietnamese football is not inferior. We are closing the gap with the top Asian teams.”

Quang Hai’s focus is now on the Asian Qualifiers due to resume in March, with Vietnam top of Group G on 11 points, two points ahead of Malaysia while Thailand are a further point behind.

UAE are also in the mix with six points while Indonesia have yet to register a single point.

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