FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan believes Doan Van Hau’s loan move to Dutch outfit Heerenveen is a huge boost for Vietnamese football.
Make no mistake about it – Vietnamese football is currently enjoying a golden generation.
Still, if the current crop are to fulfil their true potential, then it is not enough to just be winning the AFF Suzuki Cup, causing upsets at the AFC Asian Cup or going far at age-group tournaments.
With Doan Van Hau joining Eredivisie side Heerenveen, Vietnam is taking another step forward.
🎥 Maak kennis met onze nieuwe aanwinst!
💬 ‘Ik ben heel dankbaar om hier te zijn.’
— sc Heerenveen (@scHeerenveen) September 2, 2019
For all the apparent talent they can currently boast, it is curious to see that almost the entire Golden Dragons squad that will kick off their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign this week currently ply their trade in the domestic V.League 1.
Prior to Van Hau’s move, the only two exceptions were Belgium-based Nguyen Cong Phuong and goalkeeper Dang Van Lam, who has been doing well in Thai League 1 with Muangthong United.
This is quite remarkable considering there is Nguyen Quang Hai, the name on everyone’s lips when it comes to Southeast Asian football for the past 18 months, but who – if reports are to be believed – is being desperately held on to by Hanoi FC.
NGUYEN QUANG HAI orchestrates Vietnam’s opening goal at the AFC Asian Cup 2019
There is also Luong Xuan Truong, who has had loan spells in Korea Republic and Thailand but currently finds himself back with Hoang Anh Gia Lai.
This is not to say that V.League 1 is not of a decent level but these Vietnamese starlets can only get better challenging themselves at a higher level, and even Japan, Korea Republic or a West Asian country like Qatar would be a step up.
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Hôm nay là 1 ngày đặc biệt với Hậu, Hậu vui mừng thông báo khi kể từ hôm nay Hậu chính thức được khoác lên mình chiếc áo của SC Heerenveen, đặc biệt hơn khi ngày khoác lên mình chiếc áo mới còn là ngày Quốc Khánh của Việt Nam. SC Heerenveen là 1 câu lạc bộ có bề dày truyền thống của Hà Lan, việc được thi đấu tại đây là 1 niềm vinh dự với bản thân Hậu. Xin được cảm ơn những nỗ lực đàm phán giữa 2 câu lạc bộ @officialhanoifc và @scheerenveenofficial cùng những người liên quan, xin được cảm ơn VFF đã tạo điều kiện để giúp Hậu kịp hoàn thành thời hạn ký kết hợp đồng. Đặc biệt, xin được cảm ơn toàn thể những người hâm mộ vẫn luôn sát cánh cùng Hậu, Hậu ý thức được khoảng thời gian sắp tới sẽ có nhiều thử thách đi kèm với trách nhiệm của bản thân. Hậu sẽ cố gắng hết sức có thể cùng với SC Heerenveen dành được những kết quả tốt nhất để đền đáp lại những kỳ vọng cũng như sự động viên của mọi người dành cho Hậu. Xin Cảm Ơn, Dankjewel! I am delighted to be here. I will do my best to help the club get the best results. Thank you all very much! Dankjewel! 💙💙💙❤️❤️❤️ 🔵⚪️🔴
Of course, Europe remains the holy grail and that is where Van Hau is headed – to the Eredivisie no less.
The cynics will claim there are ulterior motives behind Van Hau’s transfer and, admittedly, there is much to be gained off the field from signing a player from a country like Vietnam.
After all, Sint-Truiden’s social media following grew tremendously in the immediate aftermath of Cong Phuong’s arrival and Heerenveen can expect a similar scenario.
Nonetheless, Van Hau – still only 20 – has shown plenty since making his professional debut in 2017 to suggest he will succeed in Europe.
The left-back is technically sound, has gained a solid foundation at Hanoi and playing under Vietnam coach Park Hang-seo, can run for days, but – standing at 1.85 metres – also has the physique to match it with what European football will throw at him.
Considering the legendary Le Cong Vinh’s spell in Portugal lasted all of two matches, Vietnam’s passionate supporters deserve a genuine trailblazer to be cheering on as they watch on their screens into the wee hours of the night.
It is great that the Golden Dragons – as a team – have achieved so much in the past 20 months; starting with their run to the final at the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship, a fourth-place finish at the Asian Games, winning the Suzuki Cup and then reaching the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup.
These are important achivements in their own right.
But if the likes of Quang Hai, Xuan Truong and Vu Van Thanh can follow in Van Hau’s lead and make their way to Europe, then perhaps Vietnam can one day not just dream of qualifying for the Asian Cup but realistically aim to win it.
Now wouldn’t that be a step forward…