22 years old. Undaunted. After scoring two goals on his FIFA World Cup ™ qualifying debut, Vietnamese striker Nguyen Tien Linh impressed the media and fans alike in Asia’s qualification for Qatar 2022.
Becamex Binh Duong’s striker failed to score in the first game in a goalless draw against Vietnam in Vietnam but showed a fleeting glimpse of his genius as he struck home in a 3-1 win in Indonesia.
Then came his best moment in qualifying so far: he scored the only goal against the United Arab Emirates when Vietnam came to the top of Group G, which many expected to be tricky and difficult to name.
“Every striker is happy to score and contribute to the team’s victory, and so am I,” said Nguyen in a recent FIFA.com interview. “But in my opinion, I should thank my teammates for the goals scored. Without their joint efforts, I wouldn’t get a chance.”
“It is a dream for me to represent my country in the World Cup qualification,” continued the cool head of the player. “If you are a footballer, it is the greatest honor to join the national team and take part in the World Cup qualification. This campaign will be unforgettable for the rest of my active career.”
In a way, it was the way he met that made it all the more remarkable. Nguyen ran through a pass to deftly get home against Indonesia, and the goal against the UAE was truly a miracle. He collected the ball 30 meters from the goal, looked and unleashed a booming ride into the roof of the net.
“To be honest, I’m not afraid of someone I’m playing against,” said the old boy. “The only thing I’m afraid of is not to give it all. I’ve been preparing [to play for the national team] all these years, so nothing can stop me from achieving my goals.”
Indeed, Nguyen is one of the hopefuls who have written their names over and over again in the country’s folklore. They booked their first qualification for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic and even stunned their own fans two years ago by finishing second in the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship.
“I played at the 2017 U-20 World Cup but missed the U-23 Asia Cup because of an injury. But I worked harder and then earned the appointment of coach Park Hangseo to the senior team.”
“People usually say that I am very competitive with our opponents for the ball and I think I am good at supporting my teammates, so Coach Park might think that my style of play fits his team tactics. Personally, however, I think I need to improve my finishing skills. “
Group G, Vietnam, are two points ahead of Malaysia, the next opponent on March 31. A win in Kuala Lumpur strengthens the hold in the section and with only two remaining games against Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, they are in a strong position to secure their first place in the crucial third round.
“In 2020 I have multiple goals. I want to win the V. Liga with my club and defend the AFF Suzuki Cup title with the national team. Above all, I want to continue to play an important role for my team in World Cup qualifying and hope for the next round. “