Que: All Vietnamese are dreaming of the World Cup
Vietnam are set to appear in Asian qualifying's third round for the first time
Captain Que Ngoc Hai was central to their progression
He discusses the Golden Star Warriors´ World Cup dream
Vietnamese eyes will be on their opening game against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Thursday as Asia's third round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ kicks off. It will be the sides’ third meeting on the qualifying scene, but marks Vietnam's first-ever appearance at this decisive stage.
Indeed, the south-east Asians had long been the pushovers in Asian qualifying, having invariably suffered early exits over the past two decades. Under South Korean Park Hangseo, however, the Golden Star Warriors have emerged a different side in this campaign, powering through the second round from a group which also featured United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. For captain Que Ngoc Hai, the third-round opener against Saudi Arabia is of unique significance. "We went through a series of hard tests to reach this stage – it was history-making," the 28-year-old told FIFA.com. "In a sense, we have realised our dream of reaching this level, where we can compete against Asia's strongest teams. "Our fans are proud of this. We hope we can continue our good showing in this stage and bring happiness to our supporters. "Needless to say, Saudi Arabia are strong opponents in our group," he went on, citing the fact that Vietnam lost twice (5-0, 4-0) in their previous meetings on the road to Korea/Japan 2002. "And we have to play away from home. “This is absolutely a difficult match for us. However, we are not unprepared. We will do our best."
All our players and the Vietnamese fans are looking forward to the day when our team makes it to the World Cup. It will definitely be a dream-come-true day for us.
Que proved instrumental throughout their second-round campaign as Vietnam pulled off shock after shock en route to progression. He excelled as a captain and defender, and chipped in with two goals – the latter one indispensable. Vietnam needed three points to advance in their penultimate game against Malaysia, but were drawing when Nguyen Van Toan earned a penalty with only eight minutes left. Que stepped up to the spot, keeping his cool to score the goal which sealed their victory and progression. "Under those circumstance, pressure was inevitable,” he said. “But I was confident because our coach had prepared us in such spot-kick trainings. When taking a penalty, the first thing is to believe in yourself. You need to get psychologically prepared. "I was really happy. It was such an important goal for us. It helped us reach our target. It was a victory which belonged to the entire team and all the fans." Sergio Ramos fan Playing at centre-back, Que has looked up to a series of stars, particularly Sergio Ramos. "Ramos is my idol," he said. "He plays the same position as me. He is a top player in terms of leadership, defensive technique, movement and reading the game. Besides, he is good at heading. I can draw so much inspiration from him."
Reaching the third round was a giant step forward for Vietnam, who have been grouped with Japan, Australia, China PR and Oman. "Even before the draw, we knew that at this stage, every opponent would be tough,” Que said. “We have no other option than to try harder. We need to get ourselves stronger if we are to achieve greater success. "The Word Cup is the biggest sports event in this world, where every player dreams of playing – at least once in a lifetime. All our players and the Vietnamese fans are looking forward to the day when our team makes it to the World Cup. It will definitely be a dream-come-true day for us."