National team star striker Pham Thi Hai Yen is thrilled with her opportunity to go abroad to play for Lank FC in the Campeonato Nacional III Championship, the 3rd division of Portuguese women's football.
Striker Pham Thi Hai Yen. Source: Nvbridge.com
“I feel happy and am very excited when I have the opportunity to learn more from the country with a developed football background,” Yen told reporters.
“I am completing the final procedures to go to Portugal to wear the jersey of Lank FC,” Yen added.
Lank FC are a new women's football club, established last year, and are recruiting players with their sights set on immediate promotion.
Watching the impressive performance of Vietnamese women at the AFF Cup 2020, SEA Games 30 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers, the club are attempting to sign Yen alongside striker Cu Huynh Nhu of Ho Chi Minh City and Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung of Phong Phu Ha Nam.
All three are key players of the Vietnamese national team under the guidance of coach Mai Duc Chung.
For striker Yen, the dream move is the result of years of hard work, and now she's excited to develop her game abroad.
According to Yen, her club, Ha Noi FC, supported the loan move.
Yen is expected to go to Portugal this month before the Campeonato Nacional III Championship begins on October 15 and play for the club until the season ends in June next year.
Yen said that her contract will be signed when she arrives in Portugal, so didn't provide information on her salary.
Born in 1994, Yen is currently the captain of Ha Noi FC. She has won three national championships (2011, 2013 and 2014), one AFF Women’s Championship 2019, and two SEA Games championships (2017 and 2019).
Yen has been the top scorer three times in the national championship and is the record holder for most goals in a single season, with 17 in 12 games.
In the AFF event last year, she scored six goals, including a hat-trick against Cambodia in the opening match.
At the SEA Games 2019, Yen was the hero by scoring the only goal in extra time in the final against Thailand to bring home the title.
Yen was called up to the national team in early 2014 when she was only 19 years old. In her early years, she was restricted to brief cameo appearances for the national team but was finding the net regularly at club level.
Many people called Yen a super-sub and while she was impatient to earn a place in the starting XI, she never thought of giving up.
“I had been called to the national team for a long time, but I still was a reserve player. I didn’t think much about it, because as a young player, I needed to get more experience, improve myself. When I deserve it, any chance will come,” said Yen.
At the end of 2017 and early 2018, senior players like Nguyen Thị Minh Nguyet and Nguyen Thi Muon struggled, giving Yen more opportunities to play. In addition, the injuries of Nguyen Thi Lieu and Nguyen Thi Hoa forced coach Chung to place in faith Yen.
Yen took the opportunity and ran with it.
While the trip to Portugal is a big step for Yen, Dung and Nhu, it's a giant leap for Vietnamese women's football.
“For me, this trip means a lot. It helps me to have new experiences, helps me know and understand more about other football backgrounds.
"Going far to know where I am and where I can return to help the club and the national team with the dream of attending the World Cup of Vietnamese football,” Yen said.
While Nhu of Ho Chi Minh City is very excited at the opportunity to play abroad for the Portuguese club, she also expressed her concern about her Vietnamese club letting her go.
"For me, this is a unique opportunity in the life of a female player.
"However, it still depends on the leaders of Ho Chi Minh City club. I personally think very seriously about this opportunity and if I can go abroad to challenge in another environment, it is very good for my career in the future,” said Nhu.
For midfielder Dung of Phong Phu Ha Nam, she said her club are in the process of working out procedures.
“Right now, I can’t be sure whether I can go to Portugal to play. My club are still working on the procedures. Lank FC want all information about the negotiation process to be kept confidential so I can't say much now,” said Dung.
Meanwhile, coach Chung of the national team is excited that his three players have been recruited by Lank FC.
"The fact that players may be able to play abroad is very beneficial for them personally. In a professional environment like in Europe, players will learn many things, their income increases. It is also a driving force for other players to strive,” Chung said.
“I plan to work with the Vietnam Football Federation’s technical director on the development of Vietnamese women's football in the future. We will focus on youth training and player export. It is a must to do if you want to realise the dream of participating in the World Cup of Vietnamese women's team."
However, Chung also pointed out the limitations when Vietnamese female players go abroad to play, notably the language barrier.