About two weeks since undergoing leg surgery, Do Hung Dung is starting down the long road to recovery.
|Midfielder Do Hung Dung (right) is a key player of national team. Photo goal.com|
Both Hanoi FC and the Vietnamese national team will sorely miss Dung as the midfielder faces at least six months out of action after his leg was broken in a horrific tackle by HCM City FC midfielder Ngo Hoang Thinh during a recent V.League 1 match.
The 2019 Golden Ball winner will certainly miss the national team's three remaining World Cup qualification games in Group G in the UAE from May 31 to June 15.
Vietnam are scheduled to meet Indonesia on June 7, Malaysia on June 11 and UAE on June 15. Vietnam lead the group with 11 points and have a great opportunity to progress to the next phase, but will have to do so without Dung.
In the previous 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Dung played all five games for a total of 427 minutes and is coach Park Hang-seo's top central midfielder thanks to his ability to bring coherence to the team's play.
|Midfielder Do Hung Dung is the 2019 Golden Ball winner. — Photo baomoi.com|
Ideal central midfielder
Central midfield has been one of the positions that has caused the South Korean coach the most headaches.
In the AFC U23 Championship in 2018, Park used the duo Luong Xuan Truong and Pham Duc Huy. But in the Asian Games 2018, Dung and Truong were the two main men in the middle of the park. At the AFF Cup 2018, when Truong lost his form, Park called on Dung, Nguyen Huy Hung, Truong and Huy.
However, from the Asian Cup 2019, Dung became the key central midfielder for the national team.
While Dung’s importance is tough to express in statistics due to his role in the team, his playing 427 of the 450 available minutes in the qualifiers shows how crucial he is.
At Hanoi FC, Dung was not appreciated in the early years of his career because of his average level of skill, but as he has matured, his endurance and hard work have made him a key part of the V.League 1's top team.
When Park was allowed to select two players over 22 years old for the SEA Games in 2019, he didn’t hesitate to choose Dung. The midfielder shone in the Philippines and scored an important goal against Indonesia in the final to help Vietnam win their first-ever gold medal at the SEA Games.
In the World Cup qualifiers, Dung and Nguyen Tuan Anh formed an excellent duo in the midfield against more fancied opponents.
|Midfielder Do Hung Dung would be out of action at least six months after his leg was broken. — Photo nld.com.vn|
Coach Park lost Dung to a toe injury at the Asian Games in 2018 and though Vietnam still reached the semi-finals, without Dung, the midfield was overrun against the stronger teams.
When he saw the midfielder's latest injury against HCM City while in the stands, Park rushed down to console him in the ambulance and later visited him in the hospital.
“This injury directly affects the preparation of the Vietnamese team. The decisive period of the 2022 World Cup qualifying round is coming. Dung has a vital position. Without him, it is really worrying. To have balanced tactics, the Vietnamese team needs Dung,” said pundit Ngo Quang Tung.
Dung’s injury has caused coach Park a headache but he seems to have settled on a few options for replacements, judging by the list of players to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers in the UAE.
The central midfielders to be vaccinated include Pham Duc Huy (Hanoi FC), Truong, Anh (Hoang Anh Gia Lai), Nguyen Huy Hung (SHB Da Nang) and Nguyen Hai Huy (Than Quang Ninh).
Tuan Anh is likely to take one central midfield spot, so Park may select a player in a similar mould to Dung to play alongside him.
Truong is the most skilful player among the rest of the central midfielders, but Duc Huy, Hung and Hai Huy are more similar Dung. Among those four, Hai Huy may be a name to watch.
|Midfielder Nguyen Hai Huy of Quang Ninh. — Photo thethao247.vn|
The Than Quang Ninh player knocked on the door of the national team last year but was injured.
Since recovering, Hai Huy has played like his old self.
Hai Huy is very similar to Dung: diligent, humble and talented. He is a link between attack and defence, being the first to launch an attack and the first to try and shut down a counterattack.
Hanoi FC’s midfielder Do Hung Dung, Vietnam Golden Ball Award 2019 winner and a key member of the national football team, broke his leg and may have to stop playing football for at least one year after a kick by HCM City FC's Ngo Hoang Thinh.