In an article of more than 1,000 words on Maligue2, author Julien Parisot said that if he does not improve his French soon, midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai will find it difficult to stay at Pau FC.
Recruiting a player considered “Vietnam Messi” like Quang Hai was a fever move for Pau FC last summer, although they were not used to creating such attention before. He was highly appreciated by coach Didier Tholot, but in terms of sports Quang Hai almost failed, when his first season was just over two months away.
Quang Hai’s star position in Vietnam is undisputed. When he joined Pau FC, almost the whole internet was talking about this deal. Quang Hai was then considered a technically good attacking midfielder and also a prominent player of Vietnam.
On the day Quang Hai just arrived, coach Tholot gave him the opportunity to start or substitute early in Ligue 2. But since the end of August 2022, this midfielder seems to be forgotten, whether a few times on the field or on the pitch. Pau’s bench.
The 26-year-old midfielder hardly has the opportunity to play more in Ligue 2 this season, because the team cannot drop more points in the relegation race. “If Pau had more than six points now, Quang Hai could have been given more playing opportunities,” Alexandre Castets, founder and operator of the website for Pau fans, told Maligue2.
Quang Hai is currently behind Henri Saivet, Eddy Sylvestre and Quentin Boisgard in the competition for the “number 10” position. “We almost forgot Quang Hai was here, because he wasn’t playing,” added Castets. “We thought Quang Hai just needed time to adapt to the weather and integrate with the team, so that Pau could have one more player to decide the match. But in the end, that didn’t happen.”
Quang Hai has only played two of Pau’s 12 matches since the beginning of 2023, all in the last few minutes. He was present in the exchange between players and Pau fans a few days ago. “Even though he doesn’t speak French, Quang Hai still laughs and jokes with his teammates,” Castets said. “But we also don’t have the feeling he’s made a significant improvement in his English now.”
At the end of 2022, Quang Hai has the opportunity to regain his form and feeling of competition when he returns to the AFF Cup with Vietnam, after being allowed by Pau. Vietnam reached the final, but lost to Thailand in the final 2-3. Quang Hai played almost all the matches at the tournament, but was considered to have never fallen like that since emerging in the colors of the Vietnamese teams. Quang Hai is trusted by the coach, but has no influence, only one assist line. Some Vietnamese fans think that he made a mistake when going abroad to sign a contract with Pau. There have also been rumors from more than a month that a V-League team wants to bring Quang Hai back to the summer of 2023.
Quang Hai’s contract is valid until the end of June 2024, with the option to extend for another year, so he may not leave soon. But Quang Hai’s future depends on many factors such as his level, or whether Pau stays in Ligue 2 or not. From there, team leaders will assess whether to part with the midfielder next summer, or give him a new opportunity to shine in Europe. This is a tournament with intense competition and very few Southeast Asian players can integrate.
What about Quang Hai’s integration with Pau collective? Midfielder Jean Ruiz is optimistic when talking about midfielder 19. “Of course it’s harder for players who don’t know French to integrate here,” Ruiz said. “But Quang Hai is always happy, always smiling with us. We taught Quang Hai a few words and he also tried to learn and know a few basic sentences. Quang Hai also understood most of the instructions of the coach above. When he can really communicate with the team, Quang Hai will be of great help to us, because he is good and talented.”
A few weeks ago, Pau FC president Bernard Laporte-Fray also said that the team expected Quang Hai to make the same impact as expected of a “Vietnamese Messi”. He added: “But he is experiencing a different culture, in the tournament he has better physical strength than Vietnam, so it’s not easy. Even with an interpreter, Quang Hai is still difficult to communicate. We want to Quang Hai plays more than the first team, but he also has to be capable.”
Hopefully the jewel of Vietnam will continue its journey in Ligue 2, with a breakthrough to help the team achieve their goals. Certainly Quang Hai will need to regain his confidence and improve his ability to speak French. That is the main barrier between a good player in Ligue 2 and one waiting for an opportunity to explode.