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Midfielder Dai finding his best form

After returning from injury, midfielder Nguyen Trong Dai took just 10 minutes to secure three points for Viettel three against Hong Linh Ha Tinh on Sunday, helping his team take top spot in the V.League 1.

Midfielder Nguyen Trong Dai of Viettel is expected to shine in the coming time. Photo

Since the beginning of the 2019 season, when Viettel returned to the top-flight, the player from the northern province of Hai Duong has played a total of 1,730 minutes, equivalent to 19 out of the team's 43 matches in league.

The 23-year-old was once expected to be the captain of the national team and while his career hasn't quite hit those heights yet, Dai seems to have gotten back on track.

Leading U19s to World Cup

Dai was summoned to the national U19 team to participate in the AFC U19 Championship finals in 2016. In this tournament, he was captain and made a great contribution to the team’s achievement to reach the semi-finals, which won them a ticket to the FIFA U20 World Cup 2017 finals.

But before the World Cup took place in South Korea, Dai lost the captain's armband.

Coach Hoang Anh Tuan said he chose fellow midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai to take over as skipper as he thought Dai had problems with his attitude and lifestyle.

Gloomy years

From 2018 to now, Dai hasn't been himself. Coach Tuan pointed out that he struggled with motivation and started gradually losing it after the AFC U19 event in Bahrain in 2016.

He was often given opportunities in national teams but didn't take advantage of them. During the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in which Vietnam made history by finishing runners-up for the first time, Dai was in the squad but he didn't play a single minute. He didn't even make the final squad for the 30th SEA Games last year.

In Viettel's journey to win the V.League 2 in 2018, Dai didn’t contribute much because of injuries.

While Dai has only played eight league matches this season, since the resumption of play after the recent COVID-19 outbreak, the midfielder has shone.

Midfielder Nguyen Trong Dai (right) vies for the ball with a player of Sai Gon in the V.League 1 this year. Photo

Return of former U19 captain

After defeating Sai Gon FC 1-0 in September, coach Truong Viet Hoang said: “I gave the chance to Dai, and he's making good use of it. I think if Dai continues to compete well, he will soon be himself again. At this time, Dai is the best plan for the position of defensive midfielder."

Returning in the match against Ha Tinh on Sunday after his injury, Dai entered the field in the 59th minute and 12 minutes later, he scored a classy goal to help Viettel return to the top of the pile.

"Before the game, I hoped to start and when my opportunity came, I took it and tried my best. I was very happy,” said Dai.

“I have recovered after a long time of being injured. This will be an important time for me to show. Coach Hoang used to say that the season was over for me. I thought that he aimed to change myself and wanted me to have a positive direction. I understood the positive messages in Hoang’s words and I will try to change,” said Dai.

"From now, I won’t lose my form, I will definitely maintain and develop more,” Dai added.

Coach Tuan, who put his faith in Dai, insisted that Dai had all the factors to become a great player including leadership, modern skills and intelligent play. Tuan also said that if Dai had more motivation and desire, he would play even better. VNS

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