In the Asian Football Confederation Cup Bracket Challenge to find the best goal, the AFC paired 32 nominees, with the winner of each pair decided by vote to proceed to the next round.
In the round of 16, Nguyen Quang Hai of Hanoi FC went up against Tajik forward Manuchekhr Dzhalilov of FC Istiklol, and dominated with 85.88 percent of the votes.
His goal was from the inter-zone semi-final first leg of the 2019 AFC Cup against Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr. The star midfielder curls the ball into the top left corner from a 20-yard free-kick, giving the goalkeeper no chance and helping Hanoi win 3-2.
AFC praised the goal, calling Hai a “dead-ball specialist.”
“The Hanoi native has forged a reputation for netting exquisite free-kicks and here was another as he left the goalkeeper flat-footed,” it wrote.
Dzhalilov’s goal was also stunning, an unstoppable shot from outside the box.
Another Hanoi FC player, striker Nguyen Van Quyet proceeded to the last eight by beating Thiha Zaw of Myanmar’s Ayeyawady Unided with 67.22 percent of the votes.
Quyet’s goal was scored in a 2017 group match against Philippine side Ceres Negros. He controlled a pass cleanly and got an accurate scissor kick to ensure a 1-1 draw.
“Improvisation at its finest from Hanoi FC’s Nguyen Van Quyet against Ceres Negros in the 2017 group stage as, with two defenders in close proximity and his back to goal, he controls the ball with his outstretched right foot then takes flight to fire a vicious left-footed scissor kick,” the AFC wrote.
Hai beat North Korean player An Il-bom of 4.25 FC to advance to the round of 16, while Quyet beat Bahraini midfielder Sayed Adnan.
In the quarterfinals Hai’s free-kick will come up against former Indian defensive midfielder Mehtab Hossain’s cracker for East Bengal in the 2013 event and Quyet’s against a tricky goal by Maldives’ finest player, Ali Ashfaq, for New Radiant also in 2013.
Quyet, 29, is currently captain of Hanoi FC.
Hai, 23, played a key role in Vietnam entering the finals of the 2018 AFC U23 Championship and winning the 2018 AFF Cup.
His was voted the best free-kick goal in AFC Cup history by fans in June.