Faye: Vietnam stars key to success
Hanoi: Pape Omar Faye has heaped praise on Hanoi FC’s Vietnamese internationals as the V.League side prepare to take on the Philippines’ Ceres Negros in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal semi-final on Tuesday.
The Southeast Asian nation has achieved considerable success at international level over the past year, with the Golden Stars winning the 2018 AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Cup and then reaching the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
Hanoi, the reigning V.League champions, boast a side replete with national team players who have played key roles in the country’s improvement and Senegalese forward Faye is quick to point out the impact they have had in helping the club progress to the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals.
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“Hanoi are a big team so the club attracts some very good and talented players,” said 32-year-old Faye, whose side claimed a record-breaking 10-0 victory over Cambodia's Naga World in their opening game of the tournament.
“Our national team players have helped us a lot because they have gained great experience in many competitions in Asia, which has proved very important for the team.”
Hanoi topped Group F as the tournament’s leading scorers to advance to the AFC Cup knockout rounds for the first time since 2014, with a 2-0 victory over Singapore’s Tampines Rovers on Matchday Six sealing their place in the next round.
And while Vietnam internationals such as Nguyen Quang Hai, Nguyen Van Quyet, Doan Van Hau and Pham Duc Huy are a formidable presence in the team, it is Faye and Nigerian striker Ganiyu Oseni who have scored the majority of the side’s 23 goals.
Oseni, with nine goals to his name, is the competition’s joint-top scorer while Faye has five strikes to his name, including an ultimately crucial goal in a 1-1 draw against Tampines on Matchday Two.
“We were in a very strong group and it wasn’t easy to get the points we did, which was why it took until the last game to qualify,” explained Faye.
“Of course, Oseni is a key player for the team with all his goals, but if you watch our team you will see we work very hard together to win games.
“We are not only the top scorers in the AFC Cup, but also in the V.League, so we’re doing well and we’re all happy to get to the [Zonal] semi-finals.”
The first leg in Bacolod City sees the 2019 AFC Cup’s top scorers go head-to-head, with Ceres boasting the prolific Spaniard Bienvenido Maranon within their ranks.
Filipino champions for the past two seasons, Ceres have reached the ASEAN Zonal final in each of the past two campaigns while Maranon has 27 goals to his name in the competition between 2017 and 2019.
“Maranon is a very good player but we have no special plan for him because we need to focus on their whole team, not just one person,” added Faye.
“I think it can be an advantage to have the second leg at home but before that we must ensure we play well in the Philippines. Our target remains to get as far as possible.”
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