Vietnamese footballers (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) –
Three footballers from the U23 Vietnam squad made their names in the Asian Games 2018 (ASIAD) team of the tournament, according to FOX Sports Asia.

The star players include central midfielder Bui Tien Dung, rightwing defender Vu Van Thanh, and midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai.

According to FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan, Thanh continued his exemplary performance in Indonesia as Vietnam stormed to the semi-finals before being beaten by the Republic of Korea (RoK).

“The 22-year-old looks a perfect fit for coach Park Hang-seo’s 5-2-3 system, bombing forward with intent whenever he gets the chance but also adept at performing his defensive duties,” Tan said.

Meanwhile, it was Dung that played a crucial role for his side, keeping five consecutive clean sheets from their opening Group D clash until they conceded in the semi-finals to the RoK, Tan said.

“Widely regarded as one of Southeast Asian’s brightest prospects following some brilliant displays as an attacker, Nguyen Quang Hai’s development continued at the Asian Games where he was deployed in a traditional central midfield role”, Tan said.

“Quang Hai not only adapted well to an unfamiliar role but exceeded the performance of Vietnam’s usual midfielder Luong Xuan Truong – however his campaign ended on a sour note as he missed a costly penalty in the bronze medal playoff against United Arab Emirates,” he added.

The RoK, Japan, and Uzbekistan each had two players in the best 11 list while the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia each had one.

With a perfect record of three wins against Nepal, Pakistan and Japan, Vietnam topped Group D to reach the knock-out phase.

They beat Bahrain 1-0 before seeing off Syria in the quarter-finals to be the last remaining Southeast Asian team in the tournament. 

They suffered a 1-3 defeat to the Republic of Korea in the semi-finals.

Although the team lost to the UAE 3-4 during a tense penalty shootout after drawing 1-1 in official time in the bronze medal match, they have been lauded for finishing in the top four for the first time. Their performance was celebrated by fans, with the players and coaches returning to a hero’s welcome on National Day (September 2).

Vietnam’s journey throughout the competition gives hope for the team to advance further at the continental level on the pitch.

ASIAD is the world’s second biggest multiple sports event after the Olympics. This year’s edition was held in Jakarta and Palembang of Indonesia from August 18 to September 2, drawing 16,000 competitors and officials from 45 countries and territories.

Vietnam sent 352 athletes to the ASIAD 2018. The country bagged a total of four gold, 16 silver, and 18 bronze medals to finish 17th in the medal table. 

The four golds were in pencak silat (men’s combat 70-75 kg and 90-95 kg), women’s long jump, and women’s lightweight quadruple sculls. –VNA