Vietnam went wild Saturday night despite the country’s 1-2 defeat to Uzbekistan in the final of the Asian Football Confederation U23 Championship. Fans poured into the streets in all big cities to celebrate their team’s historic achievement under the leadership of Korean manager Park Hang-seo.
“Many Vietnamese and Koreans went out to watch the game together. We lost, but we feel great pride,” Dinh Xuan Hoa, 27, who lives in Hanoi, told The Korea Times. Dinh, who works at a subcontractor for Samsung Electronics near the capital, said he got off work early to join the huge football crowd.
Giang Nguyen, 28, who watched the game in Ho Chi Minh City, said the tournament brought Vietnamese and Koreans much closer.
“Park is being cheered in Vietnam for his dedication to the team,” she said. “His leadership has led the young team to another level in the regional playing arena. With his help, I can see that a lot of Korean friends both in Vietnam and Korea are directing their support to the Vietnamese team.
“Vietnamese people now look at him as a part of the Vietnamese team and show their respect to him and his family. His wife was invited to the Vietnamese embassy in Korea to be appreciated.
“I think Park has strengthened the relationship between Vietnam and Korea to a higher level of trust as part of the family.”
She said many Vietnamese believed Park played a crucial role in lifting their country’s football to the next level.
“We all were impressed by the players’ fighting skills, resilience, teamwork and, most importantly, their professional attitude toward not just their supporters but also referees and their opponents,” she said.
“I think his contribution will surely foster co-operation between Vietnam and Korea.”
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The celebration continued until late at night despite the rain. Kim Hyo-jin, a Korean who lives in Hanoi, said it reminded her of when Korea reached the World Cup semi-finals after defeating Spain in 2002.
Vuong Thuy Hang, 27, watched the final during a business trip in Hanoi and later returned to his home in Ho Chi Minh City.
“On the street, they were still celebrating the achievement,” he said. “The atmosphere was the same. It was exciting and heart-moving. We have never got that far in a big tournament.
“We were glad that our team got into the quarter-finals, so we started celebrating for them. The team played better and better in every game, so they caught a lot of attention.
“Never before football has caught that much attention from people here.
“This time it was emotional to see the players doing really well and to see that many fans (including new girl fans) got in and cheered for them. Thanks to football, every heart here was connected.”
Local media reported that Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc called the team to congratulate them and that he had asked the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to provide a big bonus for Park, the players and other officials.
Korea’s President Moon Jae-in also praised the manager’s contribution. Moon said he was glad that through football, “Korea and Vietnam have become close friends.”
Source: THE KOREA TIMES