From May onwards, Sai Gon and Vince Lloyd just clicked. Everything fell in place. Everything was going well, nothing was going to stop us. We had no players suspended, we got no real injuries to first team players, a couple picked up knocks here and there, but remember when I said we have an abundance of players able to play multiple positions? Well no one really missed out, every player got a fair amount of game time, and we were on a roll.
My earlier concerns about how late we were scoring goals subsided, as we started well in most games, scored early, scored during the game, and scored during the closing stages. My concerns about teams shutting up shop went away as we dominated the league and never not looked like winning.
Let me show something:
What do you think that sequence is? Take a moment to think. It’s nothing fancy by the way.
It’s the goal scoring record of Patrick Cruz from the 5th game onwards. He scored in 8 successive league games, and by the time July rolled around we’d won 11 league games in a row, which of course meant we were top of the league. Oh and we’d made some good progress in the cup as well, which I’ll tell you about shortly, I just need to explain something first.
So earlier in my story I told you I felt that the chairman and myself got on well, he really seemed like someone I could work with for a long time, until there was money involved. Nguyen Xuan Dong was one of the center halves that had played every game for me, he was a great guy and a good player.
He was well on board with what we set out to achieve that season, and seemed genuinely content with how things were going, that was until Binh Duong made an offer for him. I always asked the club to give me values in Australian dollars, things like wages, transfer fees, ticket prices that kind of thing, so I can get a decent idea of where we are with that side of it.
I don’t know what the conversion rate between Vietnamese Dong to Australian dollars is, but Binh Duong bid the equivalent of 24,000 dollars for Duong, and I’ve just realised their team name is the same as his last name! Anyway so they bid for him, he said he wasn’t that fussed about moving, the news broke in the media before I had chance to discuss it with the club, but the chairman had accepted the offer before I’d even got to his office
‘How can you accept an offer for a first choice player without so much as asking me about it?’
‘The kind of money they’re offering is too hard to say no to Vince. When get promoted you’ll be able to attract much better players’
I thought on the fly, I knew we’d be covered but didn’t want him to know that ‘But without a player that’s played in every game this season, played well in every game, we might falter and suffer without him’ When I asked Nguyen about it, he said he wasn’t actively looking to leave, but they were offering more wage and despite us topping the league, there was still no guarantee we’d be promoted.
By todays standards, what is 24k really? We’d get more than that just by getting promoted, I was working well within the wage budget, and the club wouldn’t be giving me all of it anyway.
But I lost a little respect for Nguyen that day, he could’ve easily said no and rejected the move, but he didn’t and the deal was done, much to my dismay.
When 1 door closes, another door opens. Cast your mind back to earlier in my tale, when I said that Mo had contacts in the Ivory Coast. I had asked him if he knew anyone from there that might be willing to move to Vietnam, oh and remember that bit, I need to explain something to you.
Anyway he got on the phone and I’m not kidding, within 2 hours he’d arranged a Skype call with a guy called Kaloulou Sylla**, a center half from the Ivory Coast that knew Mo from their time at the Toure Brothers football academy. He was on a monthly contract at a team called Sabe, but we bought out the remainder of his contract for a measly 500 Australian dollars (equivalent) and flew him to Ho Chi Minh City, and the deal was done within a day!
A much better player, okay slightly older at 31, but for this league, and the V League above us, he looks an absolute steal
So with him being flown out to Vietnam at the clubs expense, this is what I had to explain to you. I’d actually forgot to mention that when I was offered the job here I was also offered a 2 bedroom flat to live in.
The chairman knew that moving to a new country, especially one like Vietnam, a person needs as much stability as possible. So my current abode is in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, and I absolutely love it!
So I’m settled here, the team is playing well, and despite being a second division side, we’ve made it all the way to the semi final, the SEMI BLOODY FINAL of the Vietnamese cup.
We’re drawn against current V League holders Ha Noi in the 2 legged semi final.
They’re currently top of the league, having won back to back league titles and looking good for another.
We’ll have our work cut out for us I think.
So including the 2 legged semi, we’ve got 9 games to go in my maiden season in Vietnam. I’m happy with where the team are, and despite playing extra games in the cup, the team don’t seem fatigued in the slightest.
We’ve been lucky with no real injuries or suspensions, I just hope nothing comes up to stop our bid to take that league title and automatic promotion.
Next chapter – It happened after 11
Previous chapter – When you go to Vietnam be sure to wear flowers in your hair
Episode 1 – This is not another European journeyman
** Authors note some of the players in the story have some faces on their profiles. A lot of lower league players don’t have their pictures, so I have picked some player faces at random from the facepack and added them to the game. The players with faces added that don’t have them in the default facepack are ones that are substantial to the story so you may see someone’s face in the story that isn’t actually their face.