Coach Park Hang-seo has returned to South Korea to celebrate the New Year with his family and will watch the opening V.League 1 matches from home, hoping to see young players have the opportunity to sharpen their skills.
Park has recently complained about the poor quality of domestic strikers, causing big problems for the national team.
In the latest training camp last month, Park called up eight forwards, all of them familiar faces. Among them, Phan Văn Long of SHB Đà Nẵng and Hồ Tuấn Tài of HCM City are new to Park but have played for underage national teams several times.
During two friendly matches with the U22 squad, Park gave a chance to all of them but was unable to find any players better than his typical choices, namely Nguyễn Công Phượng, Hà Đức Chinh and Nguyễn Tiến Linh who will be crucial in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers when he returns to Việt Nam near Tết (the traditional lunar New Year).
"Despite their younger rivals, senior players’ ability could not meet my demand. Strikers need to manage their space and work well with teammates to carry out attacks,” Park told reporters after a recent friendly match between the senior and U22 teams in Phú Thọ Province.
“They have not mastered these skills. The problem is their poor performance.
“However, I have run the national teams for several years but not seen any striker better than Phượng, Chinh and Linh although they did not play outstandingly,” Park said.
“It is because, in the V.League 1, the front line belongs to foreigners. I am sure that my U22 strikers could only find a berth on the benches when they are at their clubs because foreign players secure almost of the slots.
“Last year, there were 47 foreign players in the V.League and 70 per cent play as forwards. So, how can I find a local one, especially a young one?” said Park.
The South Korean coach answered his own question.
“We should ask ourselves ‘why do the national teams face the lack of forwards?'
“My opinion, which will receive a strong objection, is the VFF (Việt Nam Football Federation) and VPF (Việt Nam Professional Football Company) should build up a mechanism in which clubs must give opportunities to young players in general and strikers in particular.”
The new coach of Becamex Bình Dương Phan Thanh Hùng agreed with Park. He said: “Coaches will have to adjust his teams’ playing style when they face different rivals. In football, good strikers are necessary for any coach but I think today a defender or midfielder should also attack well.
“Park wants more opportunities for young players. It is right and helps Vietnamese football.”
Many agreed with Park but a number of local coaches did not stand with him, including coach Lê Huỳnh Đức of SHB Đà Nẵng.
“Coaching a club is totally different from what we do with a national team. At the club, we have to shoulder the heavy pressure of getting success. Therefore, coaches have to use foreign strikers to reach the target,” he said.
“If Park was a club coach, he would do the same, I think.”
Sông Lam Nghệ An executive director Nguyễn Đức Thắng said it was difficult to set a regulation forcing clubs to let young players play. If Vietnamese young players could not compare with the foreigners in terms of technique, body shape and speed, then they would struggle for a spot in first team.
“The national teams are important but if we play with youngsters it would strongly affect our results, the quality of the league and the rights of the sponsors,” said coach Nguyễn Văn Sỹ of Nam Định.
“We can only let them play when we ensure our targets are completed.”
Meanwhile, assistant coach Nguyễn Việt Thắng of Đà Nẵng said young players should try harder for their chances, as strikers such as Lê Công Vinh, Nguyễn Anh Đức, and Phan Thanh Bình did in the past.
According to Trần Anh Tú, VPF Chairman, the organisers must balance the benefit of the national team and clubs. The VPF will work with the VFF about this issue and hear the opinions of clubs.