A committee tasked with picking six most likely contenders of the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the upcoming ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship has picked two Vietnamese players in the list.
First on the list is midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai.
The committee called Hai, 20, "a dazzling talent" who has attracted interest from various Asian football clubs.
Hai’s attacking skills have made him crucial to the national team’s success, it said.
Nguyen Quang Hai in action at the Asian Games 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
Hai scored five goals as a forward at the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship in January, a huge contribution to Vietnam’s second place finish.
At the recent Asian Games, he was asked to play as an attacking midfielder, and he helped Vietnam reach the semifinals for the very first time. When Fox Sports Asia football pundit Gabriel Tan named his elite team from the Asiad, Hai was among three Vietnamese names selected.
Nguyen Cong Phuong, Hai’s teammate, stands out among the “supremely talented generation of Vietnamese stars,” the committee said. Phuong has been praised for his versatility, playing well in forward and midfield positions, and for his “ability to craft unique attacks.”
Nguyen Cong Phuong takes a penalty at the Asian Games 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
The other strong candidates for the MVP award are Stefano Lilipaly from Indonesia, Thitipan Puangchan from Thailand, Manny Ott from the Philippines and Safawi Rasid from Malaysia.
Previous winners of the MVP prize include Vietnamese midfielder Nguyen Hong Son in 1998 and, 10 years later, his compatriot goalkeeper Duong Hong Son.
The AFF Championship 2018 will start on November 8. Vietnam is in group A and will play their first match with Laos away on November 8, Malaysia at home on November 16, Myanmar away on November 20 and Cambodia at home on November 24.
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