Vietnam U23s impress international community

Sunday, 2018-01-28 10:14:00
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The spirit and desire for victory by the young Vietnamese players has left a good impression on the hearts of fans and international media. (Photo: AFC)
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NDO – Vietnam U23 were unable to claim their first regional title in history when losing to the last minute of extra time. Nevertheless, the impressive performances of the red-shirts have left a mark on the international media, as well as on the hearts of millions of fans not only in Vietnam but across the region.

Shortly after the end of the final match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship between Vietnam and Uzbekistan, the AFC ran an article on the emotional match at Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre. “While Uzbekistan’s victory saw them add to the AFC U16 Championship title they won in 2012, it also brought the curtain down on a remarkable Vietnam campaign, one which will live long in the memory of the Southeast Asian nation’s supporters,” it said.

The article stated that Uzbekistan U23 overwhelmed and soon had the opener just eight minutes into the game. The Central Asian team caused a lot of pressure and “forced Vietnam goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung into smart saves." AFC also gave praise to the hero of Vietnam U23 in the penalty shootout in the semi-finals and the superb free-kick by Quang Hai to level the scoring in the 41st minute.

Quang Hai curves a superb free-kick to level the scoring for Vietnam U23 in the final match with Uzbekistan U23.

The competing spirit and the desire to win by coach Park Hang-seo’ side in adverse weather conditions throughout 120 minutes also received much praise. Indonesia's Bola Akurat applauded the Vietnam U23's "decent resistance" as they only narrowly lost by a score of 1-2 and also managed to overcome a situation that they never experience before: snow. “Under the ice grains, they forced Uzbekistan to play in extra-time after a 1-1 draw,” said Bola Akurat. The Jakarta-based news also stated that Vietnam's successful campaign through the 2018 AFC U23 Championship is a milestone for modern Southeast Asian football.

The AFP news agency was impressed with the sentiment that Vietnamese fans have for their favourite team. "The normally low-profile event has been followed with the fervour of a World Cup final in the Southeast Asian nation... The under-23 team was the first Southeast Asian side to reach the final of the AFC U23 Championship, blowing past regional heavyweights like Iraq and Qatar.”

“The streets were flooded with a sea of red and gold as flag-waving fans, many also wearing red headbands that said “Vietnam Wins”, filled parks and public squares to watch the final on big screens. Throughout the match a cacophony of sounds bellowed through the streets as fans drew out everything from children’s trumpets to metal pans to cheer on the “national heroes” from afar… Despite the loss, the huge crowd of fans were bursting with national pride as they streamed home, some still chanting “Vietnam the champion!”, AFP described.

Fox Sports ran an article about the Vietnam U23’s win in the hearts of fans.

Meanwhile, on the prestigious network Fox Sports, John Duerden wrote an article about the Vietnam U23’s victory in the hearts of fans. The writer who covers Asia for Guardian, BBC, NYT, World Soccer, AP, and ESPN said that the Vietnamese journey has received the support of millions of fans on the streets of the country as well as the rest of the ASEAN region. Differences from all regions have been blurred as they “all were united in their support for the Golden Stars.”

John Duerden wrote: “Vietnam winning the trophy would have made a good story great but didn’t matter that much. The main prize had already been won… Vietnam have erased any semblance of the inferiority complex that ASEAN teams have had when taking on so-called bigger and better nations on the pitch… This is the real trophy to take home from China. It is one that shines with confidence and self-belief and it is one that all Southeast Asia can share.”

Social networking forums are also lively with compliments and affection for the red boys after U23 Vietnam finished the tournament with runners-up. These comment lines get a lot of "likes" within just a few hours of posting.

An account on the AFC’s official facebook page wrote: “Vietnam U23 have shown us what the sport spirit is. We are proud of you. You did it well rather than well.”

Another facebook user from Myanmar commented: "U23 Vietnam lost the game at the last minute but definitely won the heart... Very happy to see this young generation of Vietnamese: standing tall and strong and confidently facing the world… We are proud of you and you make us to be proud in Asia. "

On the same point, a Malaysian fan expressed their pride in Vietnam U23 players and saying: "You are still number one!" There is also an optimistic Indonesian user in the bright future of Vietnamese football: "A golden generation is ready to explode in the world football. Thank you for carrying the ASEAN flag this far.”