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Vietnamese football upbeat about bright future

by Trung Hung/NDO01 September 2018 Last updated at 15:18 PM

The 3-1 loss to continental powerhouses Korea Republic two days ago forced the Vietnamese team to miss out on the final of the men’s football at the 2018 Asian Games for the first time, but home fans can be remain optimistic about a bright future.

In the semi-final at Pakansari Stadium, West Java, Indonesia on August 29, the Vietnamese Olympic team could only take consolation in the goal scored from substitute Minh Vuong’s stunning free kick in the 70th minute. The “golden stars” fought bravely against strong rivals who featured Premier League star Son Heung-min but could not achieve a surprise victory.

Sadness and tears rolled down the cheeks of Vietnamese fans but we all have to admit that the Korean team are too strong and we had tried our best. The failure ended the impressive run of Park Hang-seo’s side at the ongoing Games, but Vietnamese football supporters are now looking towards the positive developments under Park’s “magic”.

A football nation based in an area considered the “lowland” of Asia but just within one year, Vietnam has made miraculous progress since its U23 team entered the final of the Asian U23 tournament held in Changzhou, China early this year for the first time, ending their journey with the runners-up title, before making the final four berth in the 2018 Asian Games for the first time ever.

Vietnam now has a golden generation of football players, along with being led by the "magical" Korean coach Park, who is always right with his tactics which suit the physical foundation, as well as maximising the advantages of each Vietnamese player in each position on the field. This has shown in previous matches that many wins always stand in the side of the team.

In the match with Korea Republic, Vietnamese players fought back bravely in the second half, forcing their strong rivals to step back into their own half to cope with the attacks from the red-shirt players. Minh Vuong brought great hope to the fans with his stunning free kick.

Minh Vuong scored the only goal for Vietnam during the 1-3 loss to Korean Republic in the semi-final.
Minh Vuong scored the only goal for Vietnam during the 1-3 loss to Korean Republic in the semi-final.

Despite the loss, it can be said that Vietnamese team played well against a big team. Vietnam’s football has made massive progress in just a short time, and home fans have the right to hope that such generation of golden players will make more miracles in the future.

Although the dream to become the Asian Games champions has ended, it cannot be denied that Park and his players’ performance in the tournament has thus far exceeded expectations. Key player Quang Hai and his teammates reached the semi-finals with five wins without conceding a goal, becoming one of four teams in Asian Games history to do so. The achievement once again confirms that coach Park Hang-seo is on the right track with Vietnamese football.

The Vietnamese Olympic team has recorded their best performance in Asian Games history. Before this year’s tournament, their best result was only reaching the first knockout phase, but Park has come to rewrite the history. If they had beaten the Korean Olympic team, Vietnamese football would have got to their second consecutive final after the Vietnam U23’s final berth at the Asian U23 championship earlier this year.

Unfortunately, that did not happen, and the Vietnamese Olympic team will have to compete for the third place with the UAE. Park confirmed that he must do his best to help his team win. After the unsuccessful semifinal, he still praised the spirit of competition by his players. Speaking to the media, he said: "We lost this match, but the players have given the best they can. We will prepare for the third-place playoff. I would like to thank my players and I am proud of them."

Park Hang-seo (C) has brought about the successful period for Vietnamese football in just a short period of time.
Park Hang-seo (C) has brought about the successful period for Vietnamese football in just a short period of time.

However, whether winning the bronze medal or not, the Vietnam Olympic team has made a very special impression at this year's tournament. Even without a medal, Vietnamese football can still be proud. They are the only Southeast Asian representatives in the semi-finals. With confidence in the future, the players can go even further, as confirmed by Park that the team will improve and grow up a lot.

Last year, the U23 team were criticised for their early exit after the group stage at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, they are now record makers for the national football and also the inspirers for young people. The evidence is the fans' support for the team. On the streets of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and many other cities across the country, there were parades of fans and supporters for Vietnam’s Olympic team.

Universities, restaurants, cafes and residential areas also host large TV screens for fans to enjoy the live semi-final. Despite heavy rains, thousands of spectators still stood out in the rain at Hanoi’s Hang Day Stadium and Hoan Kiem Lake, at Lach Tray Stadium in Hai Phong and in Nguyen Hue Walking Street in HCM City, as well as other outdoor areas, to keep track of their players. Immediately after the match, although the team did not progress, the fans were still with coach Park Hang-seo and his players. Thousands flocked to the streets to celebrate despite their team losing the semi-final.

Vietnamese fans flooded the streets in heavy rain despite their team’s semi-final loss.
Vietnamese fans flooded the streets in heavy rain despite their team’s semi-final loss.

"Our team has done very well, but Korean players are too strong. Vietnam in the semifinals is out of expectation. Hopefully, in the last game our players will win," said Hoang Hung, a resident living in District 8, HCM City.

In Da Nang, Hoang Van, 42, said to the team: "Entering the semifinals is a very successful feat but our run has not ended yet. Let’s try to bring the bronze medal home. 90 million fans in the country and also friends in Southeast Asia are still waiting for your good news."

Van Khue in Hanoi’s Ha Dong district said: "The players are still the heroes of Vietnamese people and even of the Southeast Asia in general. Good luck and success to Park Hang-seo and the team.”

Sharing the same view, Dang Phan, who was in the sea of red as football fans celebrated on Hanoi’s Ba Trieu Street, said: "Just a little sad but in sports there is win and loss. Look at them fighting to the last minute, even though the score is 1-3, I still feel warmth. Thank you, our great players and thank you, Mr. Park. Hopefully our team will improve more to achieve better results in the future."

Immediately after the defeat to the Asian Games defending champions, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc praised the Vietnamese players’ spirit of competition for the national colour and the coaching staff. The government leader expressed his hope that the young players will not to be in the doldrums after the loss and focus on recovering physical strength to compete with the highest determination, thus winning the bronze medal to meet the expectations of the country’s fans.

 

The future is still bright for Vietnamese football.

Vietnamese people are proud of what the brave Vietnamese warriors have shown at the 2018 Asian Games. Of course, they do not want the fairytale story to end here, but to go even further. Park and his players are determined to bring home the bronze medal as a gift to thank their fans, who were always beside the team in the tournament in Indonesia. And even in the immediate future, other lofty ambitions await Park and his players to conquer and make history, that is ASEAN Football Championship at the end of 2018, and the 2019 Asian Cup in January of next year.

The success of the Vietnamese Olympic team today, or the U23 team early this year, helps fans develop a new awareness of the international integration of Vietnamese football. It becomes a solid pedal for the national teams to carry hope they will advance further in the continental arena. Vietnamese football is coming to the Asian playground with the confidence to create a surprise and realise the dream.

With the quality of the golden generation, under the guidance of Park Hang-seo and the support of millions of fans, Vietnamese football will take even more strides. That is the future ahead!

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