As the final qualifying round will soon kick off, Hai has told FIFA.com about the Golden Star Warriors´ World Cup dream.
Vietnamese eyes will be on their opening game against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Thursday (Sept 2). It will be the third meeting between the two sides in the qualifying scene, but marks Vietnam's first-ever appearance at this decisive stage.
FIFA also hailed Vietnam under Korean coach Park Hang-seo, as the Golden Star Warriors “have emerged as a different side in this campaign, powering through the second round from a group which also featured United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.”
For captain Que Ngoc Hai, the third-round opener against Saudi Arabia is of unique significance.
"We went through a series of hard tests to reach this stage – it was history-making," the 28-year-old told FIFA.com. "In a sense, we have realised our dream of reaching this level, where we can compete against Asia's strongest teams.
"Our fans are proud of this. We hope we can continue our good display in this stage and bring happiness to our supporters.
When asked about rivals Saudi Arabia, the team that Vietnam once lost 9-0 to in two matches in 2002, Hai admitted the difficulties in facing such strong rivals.
"Needless to say, Saudi Arabia are strong opponents in our group," he went on, citing the fact that Vietnam lost twice (5-0, 4-0) in their previous meetings on the road to Korea/Japan 2002. "And we have to play away from home.
“This will absolutely be a difficult match for us. However, we are not unprepared. We will do our best," Hai stressed.
FIFA hailed Hai’s instrumental role throughout the second-round campaign as Vietnam pulled off shock after shock en route to progression. He excelled as a captain and defender, and chipped in with two goals – the latter one having been indispensable. Vietnam needed three points to advance in their penultimate game against Malaysia, but were drawing when Nguyen Van Toan earned a penalty with only eight minutes left. Que stepped up to the spot, keeping his cool to score the goal which sealed their victory and progression.
"Under those circumstance, pressure was inevitable,” he said. “But I was confident because our coach had prepared us with training for such spot-kicks. When taking a penalty, the first thing is to believe in yourself. You need to be psychologically prepared.
"I was really happy. It was such an important goal for us. It helped us reach our target. It was a victory which belonged to the entire team and all the fans."
Reaching the third round was a giant step forward for Vietnam, who have been grouped with Japan, Australia, China and Oman.
"Even before the draw, we knew that every opponent at this stage would be tough,” Que said. “We have no other option than to try harder. We need to make ourselves stronger if we are to achieve greater success.
"The Word Cup is the biggest sports event in this world, in which every player dreams of playing – at least once in a lifetime. All our players and the Vietnamese fans are looking forward to the day when our team makes it to the World Cup. It will definitely be a dream-come-true for us."