- Nguyen scored twice direct from corners in a match
- She won 2012 AFF Championship as a teenager
- The midfielder is confident of progressing to France 2019
Scoring directly from a corner is something rarely seen for even the world's most established stars. However, a young women's player from Vietnam showed superlative technique by twice finding the back of the net from corner kicks in a single match.
Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung achieved the remarkable feat in a group match against Malaysia in the 2015 AFF Women's Championship. That day, the youngster completed a hat-trick as her side, playing as hosts, thrashed the visitors 7-0. And she did more than just scoring from two corners, she did so with both feet. The Phong Phu Ha Nam midfielder first put her corner-kick into the net with her left before repeating the same trick with her right.
The Cristiano Ronaldo fan, who wears the same No7 jersey as her Portuguese idol, would go on to finish as the team's second top-scorer with four goals. Nguyen was an emerging star for Vietnam two years ago, but she is now among the team's undisputed stars. She scored another four goals as her side won all four matches in April's qualifying for the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup, displays which further cemented her place in the team.
"I am satisfied with my performance during the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifying," the 23-year-old told FIFA.com. "If I'm asked to rate how I did, I didn't play badly. Most importantly, we played very well as a team. We scored 27 times and conceded just a single goal. To be frank, this is probably our best qualifying for the Asia Cup."
Hopes of global debut
Her excitement is evident considering that the eight-team Asian finals, which is due to be played next April in Jordan, also serves as the qualifier for the next FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™. With the top five finishers advancing, Vietnam's hopes of a maiden Women's World Cup are realistic.
"The chances (of reaching the Women's World Cup) are equal for all eight participating teams," Nguyen said. "But I believe Vietnam won't let this precious opportunity slip away this time and we will qualify for the Women's World Cup for the first time. Indeed, it will be a wonderful experience for both me and my team-mates (if we seal qualification for the World Cup). Because only by playing in the World Cup, can we have the chance of competing against the world's best.
"Furthermore, it will provide a massive boost to the women's game in our country. Women's football development has made good progress across Vietnam over recent years and it will give us fresh impetus if we achieve our goals in the forthcoming Asian Cup. Qualification would be a milestone in our history."
Progress under Chinese guidance
Nguyen started playing football at 13 years old, but the relatively late starter made such fast progress that it did not take her too long to be called up by the national team. She won her first regional silverware as a teenager when she helped Vietnam to the 2012 AFF Women's Championship and two years later she earned the 2014 Vietnam Golden Ball award through her eye-catching performances with both club and country.
The man spotting Nguyen and giving her that national team call-up is none other than Chen Yunfa, a Chinese manager who laid the foundation for the recent progress of Vietnam during his seven-year spell from 2007-2014. Under his guidance, Vietnam became a competitive power in the region and sealed consecutive qualification for three Women's Asian Cups.
"Mr Chen Yun Fa is more than a coach, he is a teacher,” she said. “Our teacher was so strict that every player in the team could focus 100 per cent on training. Most notably, he developed the team with his tactical plans.”
As well as an appreciation of the past, the promising player has also harboured high hopes for future.
“Firstly, I want to help the national team to success in major competitions," she concluded. "Individually, I am hoping one day I will have a chance to play in one of the big women’s leagues in a country like China, Japan or Korea Republic."