3. After yet another semifinal exit, has time run out for Vietnam?
It’s a familiar story: despite a strong squad and plenty of hype, the Golden Stars of Vietnam found themselves watching the finals from home after losing their third semifinal in the last four tournaments. This defeat came in shocking fashion, with the team losing in extra time to Indonesia at home.
In hindsight, the seed of that defeat lay in the judgement of coach Nguyen Huu Thang. One of the former captain’s most glaring mistakes was perhaps the decision to not bring in another defensive midfielder to replace Ngo Hoang Thinh, who was nowhere near his best in form or fitness.
In the near future, one of the questions that face Vietnam is how to prepare for a post-Le Cong Vinh era. The veteran striker, along with his team-mate Pham Thanh Luong, has decided to retire from international football. The reality is that while Vietnam have a number of talented youngsters in the pipeline, it remains unclear how they will replace their talisman striker.