After seven 2020 V. League 1 fixtures or 49 matches, only 25 U21 players from 11 clubs have been fielded. Three clubs HCMC FC, Sai Gon FC and SHB Da Nang have not used any U21 players this season.
Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh has used the most U21 players so far, along with Hanoi FC, both regularly fielding four of their youngest players. On their heels is Song Lam Nghe An, famous for drawing talents from its own academy instead of buying new players. It has fielded three players (all 21 years old), alongside Hong Linh Ha Tinh.
One reason behind the lack of game time is a lack of experience among youneger players, which could impact club performance. For instance, Nam Dinh and Ha Tinh are among the bottom three in the league after frequently rotating U21 players during games, while HCMC FC and Sai Gon FC, lying first and second on the table, have fielded not a single young player this season.
Only five U21 players were given the chance in every game this season, including Nguyen Hung Thien Duc (Becamex Binh Duong), Nguyen Van Toan (Hai Phong FC), Dang Van Lam (Song Lam Nghe An), Nguyen Hong Son (Quang Nam FC) and Mai Xuan Quyet (Nam Dinh). Among them, goalkeeper Nguyen Van Toan is the only player to appear for an entire game during the first six fixtures. He was unfortunately absent in the seventh due to injury.
Many other U21 players have only been fielded in the dying minutes of a game, leaving them little room to either make their mark, or gain traction.
SEA Games 31 will take place in Vietnam next year, with the U22 team hoping for securing their historic gold won last year.
But in order for the team to perform well, insiders said young players need more time to play in domestic leagues, and so afford coach Park Hang-seo the chance to observe and choose the most talented among them for his squad.