Vietnam beats Qatar on penalties, storming to U23 Asian Cup final

Vietnam won over a 4-3 penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw, storming to the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 (AFC U23) Championship final.

(VNF) - Vietnam won over a 4-3 penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw, storming to the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 (AFC U23) Championship final.

Vietnam beats Qatar on penalties, storming to U23 Asian Cup final

Nguyen Quang Hai (white shirt, number 19) celebrates after scoring the second goal for the Vietnamese U23 team, bringing the overall score to 2-2 in the U23 Asian Cup semifinal against Qatar. (Photo by VnExpress/Thuong Nhat)

Vietnamese footballing history has been rewritten by the country's U-23 team, which secured a place in the final of the U23 Asian Cup on Tuesday (Jan 23) thanks to a dramatic victory over Qatar.

With a 4-3 penalty shootout win after added time locked at 2-2, the team once again surprised Asian football fans, becoming the first Southeast Asian country to enter the final of the championship.

Before the match, Vietnam's coach Park Hang-seo was hopeful but cautious, with Qatar widely seen as the stronger team. “Though we are aware that it’s going to be a hard game, we still have a great belief that we can win. Belief is what has brought us here,” said the coach.

"We fight for Vietnamese supporters, for Vietnam. I think the fighting spirit is one of the most best weapon of Vietnam [team]," said Vietnamese U23 team captain Luong Xuan Truong ahead of the semifinal. "I think the tactics from the head coaching staff are good preparations of VFF [Vietnam Football Federation]. And the solidarity of the team is also the team's greatest strength."

Thousands of Vietnamese fans have gathered at Hanoi's Hang Day Stadium to cheer on their national team in the semifinal of the U-23 Asian Cup semifinal against Qatar. The fans put on red shirts with yellow stars, and many have brought drums and horns to support the team.

The match has taken on national importance in Vietnam, with many people taking a half-day just to watch the game.

Vietnam will face either South Korea or Uzbekistan in the final, who are set to play their semifinal on Tuesday evening.

On Jan 17, Vietnam’s U23 national team thrilled football fans across the country by reaching the quarterfinals of the AFC U23 for the first time ever, thanks to a goalless draw against Syria. Vietnam and Malaysia are the first Southeast Asian teams to achieve the feat.

Three days later, Vietnamese fans erupted when their team kept the dream alive by reaching the semifinals thanks to a dramatic victory over Iraq.

Earlier, Vietnam also became the first Southeast Asian team to achieve a group stage victory by defeating Australia, and one of the first teams from the region to reach the quarterfinals together with Malaysia.

Vietnam beats Qatar on penalties, storming to U23 Asian Cup final

Park Hang-seo, head coach of Vietnam's national U23 football team, hugs Xuan Truong, the team's captain after Vietnam beats Iraq to go into the semifinal of the AFC U23 Championship 2018. (Photo by VnExpress/Anh Khoa)

Talking to his team after the win against Iraq, Park said, “You deserve this. There is no luck that can make a miracle. Miracles come from blood and sweat.”

It looks like Park has fulfilled the promise he made three months ago when he took on the job as head coach of Vietnam’s national U23 football team: making it a leading team in Southeast Asia and competitive in Asia.

Park has gone against conventional techniques and methods by repositioning his players to get the best out of them.

For many Vietnamese fans who for years have watched their team perform in the Southeast Asian playground only, coach Park Hang-seo and his players are already heroes, no matter whether they take the title of champion or not./.

VNF

Phiên bản di động