World Cup Qualification: What does the future hold for Vietnam after losing its #1 goalkeeper ?

Image Credit: El Loko Foto

On May 29th, Mr.Park Hang Seo, the head coach of Vietnam National Football team announced that he has decided to remove Dang Van Lam - the starting goalkeeper-from the team list. The decision came after several of Dang Van Lam’s teammates from Cerezo Osaka club tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. The decision will cut the 27 years old goalkeeper from playing in Vietnam's last 3 games in the World Cup qualifier.

This begs the question, how will a Dang Van Lam - less Vietnam team perform ?

Statistically, Dang Van Lam has done a very good job at the post, maintaining a 58% clean sheet rate for Vietnam. The half-Russian, half-Vietnamese goalkeeper has been in the starting lineup for Vietnam in all of their games in the 2018 AFF Cup , the 2019 Asian Cup and the first half of the current World Cup 2022 qualifier. Impressively, Dang Van Lam boasts a save rate of 80%, meaning only one goal out of every 5 will reach the back end of the net when he plays. Therefore, it can be said that Dang Van Lam has played no small part in Vietnam’s current position at the top of group G.

The famed coach, Park Hang Seo now faces a challenge in searching for Dang Van Lam’s replacement between Bùi Tấn Trường, Nguyễn Văn Hoàng and Nguyễn Văn Toản. All three of these players statistically have less impressive profiles, with save rate at 74%, 71% và 69% respectively.

Image Credit: Lâm Thoả from VnExpress

The most probable candidate for the position looks to be Bùi Tấn Trường - a veteran goalkeeper who was the former starting keeper for Vietnam National Football team. This worries many, especially since fans have not forgotten Tấn Trường’s mistakes in several key matches, leading to 6 conceded goals, 3 of which results directly from his error. However, it is important to note that the 35-year-old goalkeeper has improved a lot since his “infamous” performance 10 years ago, now even starting as the main goalie for Hà Nội F.C.

In the end, it is incredibly difficult to say for sure how Vietnam will perform without its most trusted keeper at the far post, however, it is still too early to doubt Tấn Trường’s ability. After all, nothing is impossible in football - and nothing is certainly out of reach given Vietnamese’s players and its fans’ burning passion - they have the AFF and the SEA Game cups to prove it.