V.League: Nguyen Trong Hieu a raw gem needs to be honed

Midfielder Nguyen Trong Hieu of the V.League 1’s Hai Phong is one of the notable names in the 36-player squad for the third gathering of the U19 Vietnam team this year.

V.League: Nguyen Trong Hieu a raw gem needs to be honed
Nguyen Trong Hieu of Hai Phong is expected to shine in the near future. Photo vinalive.vn

For the training camp from August 20 to August 30, coach Philippe Troussier selected a lot of new players for the upcoming AFC U19 Football Championship to be held in Uzbekistan later this year.

The French coach said he has found many good players not only for the upcoming season but also "bright gems" for Vietnamese football looking towards the 2026 World Cup.

One of the "gems that need to be honed" is Hieu.

“Hieu has a big figure and a very quick reaction. He has the qualities of a good player. This is his first time for the U19 team, so it takes time to adapt. I think he will be qualified and deserves to have a place in the national team through what he has shown,” said Troussier.

Hieu was born in 2001 in Hai Phong and attended the junior football training centre of Hai Phong before being promoted to train with the senior team at the age of 17.

In an interview, Hieu once shared: "My disadvantage is not to play in any U19 tournaments to present myself, but at the club, I still try to practise hard so that national coaches can see me."

The 19-year-old quickly won the favour of the national underage team coach.

In his debut for Hai Phong in the match against Nam Dinh on June 23, Hieu left a deep impression when contributing to his side's 2-0 victory.

Coach Pham Anh Tuan was very satisfied with Hieu’s performance.

 

“Hieu is young, but quite stubborn and not afraid of any players. Observing him during training, I feel that I can trust him when bringing him on the match,” said Tuan.

Hieu is one of the 10 youngest players in the top-flight alongside Pham Trung Thanh of HCM City, Tran Hoang Bao of Binh Duong and Hoang Van Hai of Thanh Hoa.

As well as a height of 1.8m, dexterity and quick reflexes, Hieu is comfortable on the ball, which has his coaches salivating at his potential.

"Because Hieu is a new player, there is lateness compared to the other players that I have worked with, but because he has such potential qualities, I am still patient, giving him the opportunity,” Troussier said.

From 2026, 48 teams will play in the World Cup instead of 32, giving the Asian region 8.5 spots in the finals and Vietnam a greater opportunity to compete at the highest level.

Preparations to achieve this goal have already begun and players born in 2001-2004 with a good height and body like Hieu are being sought by coach Troussier to cope with the physicality of the modern game.

To qualify for the 2026 World Cup and help the "bright gems" grown in confidence, tournaments like AFC U19 event are crucial.

"We need a new wind, a new generation. These players will be at their most mature in 2026. I believe, 50 per cent of these players will be the core of Vietnam team by the year 2026. Of course, the players born in 1995-97 like Nguyen Quang Hai can still play at that time but will be almost 30 years old," said Troussier.  VNS

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