Vietnam stunned Japan, four-time champions and the reigning 2011 Asian Cup winners, by taking a 2-1 lead before the Samurai Blue staged a comeback to secure a hard-fought victory in their Group D opener on Sunday evening.

After the match, Vietnam’s head coach Philippe Troussier, who had previously guided Japan to the title in 2000, expressed his satisfaction with the performance of his team.

Troussier also commended Filip for his resilience under pressure, praising not only his remarkable saves but also his contributions in distributing the ball from Vietnam’s defensive end.

Filip, who made his debut for the national team, displayed an impressive performance as he replaced the injured goalkeeper Dang Van Lam. Despite making a initial mistake in Japan’s first goal, Filip showcased commendable performance throughout the match.

However, Grushin Andrey, Lam’s agent, wrote a critical post on his personal Facebook page on Monday morning, expressing his disappointment in Filip.

Andrey wrote, “Although Vietnam scored two goals against Japan for the first time in history, we conceded four goals. In my opinion, a competent goalkeeper could have secured at least a draw in such a match. Unfortunately, Filip failed to rescue his team from the conceded goals and fell short in his debut for the national team. His performance contradicts the pre-match acclaim from reporters/journalists. Instead, he was the worst player of the match. In the 2019 Asian Cup quarterfinal against Japan, the then-goalkeeper, whom I won’t name, saved the entire team, prevented clear goals, and earned the Man of the Match title. However, in today’s match, no one could salvage the team. It’s disheartening. If you don’t want to acknowledge it, you must still address it. From an expert’s viewpoint, Nguyen Filip is the weakest link in the team. I’d also like to address those who are paid to boost Nguyen Filip’s image: I read your articles and found them amusing and lackluster. A competent goalkeeper in this match wouldn’t have conceded four goals. These are purely my personal opinions.”

Vietnamese goalkeeper Nguyen Filip (yellow jersey) blocks a shot during the Group D opener between Vietnam and Japan at the 2023 Asian Cup in Qatar, January 14, 2024. Photo: Vietnam Football Federation


Andrey’s Facebook post received negative reactions from Vietnamese fans and the media.

“I recommend removing this post promptly. It’s detrimental to the player you represent. Such behavior is unfavorable,” a reporter commented under the post.

Many comments expressed anger and included strong language directed at Andrey.

“Your client [Dang Van Lam] did a disservice to the Vietnamese team in the last minute of the Iraq match in the second qualifying round of the 2026 World Cup, and [I] didn’t see you post anything [about it]?” a comment read, referring to Vietnam’s 0-1 defeat against Iraq in Hanoi on November 21, 2023.

Another Facebook user wrote, “Don’t let envy cloud your judgment as Van Lam’s agent. Your post won’t sway coach Philippe Troussier’s decision. It’s evident that Japan is formidable, and conceding was inevitable. Fans noticed Filip’s commendable performance, especially his skillful footwork. That’s undeniable.”

“I heard that goalkeeper Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona FC) conceded four goals in the friendly match where Germany lost 1-4 to Japan,” another comment pointed out, implying that even an excellent goalkeeper like Andre ter Stegen can concede many goals, so criticism of Nguyen Filip may be unwarranted.

Andrey later deleted his Facebook post.

Dang Van Lam, who was born in Russia, joined Vietnam’s national squad in 2015 and is regarded as one of the team’s top goalkeepers.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Filip, who was born in the Czech Republic and recently gained Vietnamese citizenship, was selected to replace Lam due to his injury.

The 2023 AFC Asian Cup, held in Qatar until February 10, features 24 teams competing in six groups using a round-robin format.

The top two teams from each group and the four best-performing third-placed teams will advance to the Round of 16.

Reigning champions Qatar are in Group A with China, Tajikistan, and Lebanon, while Group B includes 2015 champions Australia, Uzbekistan, Syria, and India.

Three-time champions Iran are competing against the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, and Palestine in Group C.

Vietnam is in Group D with strong rivals Japan, Iraq, and Indonesia.

South Korea will face Malaysia, Jordan, and Bahrain in Group E, while three-time title holders Saudi Arabia will play against Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, and Oman in Group F.

Vietnam’s next match is against Indonesia on January 19.