21 Jan

Vietnam’s football continues miracle by reaching semifinals of U-23 Asian Cup

 

Vietnam's football continues miracle by reaching semifinals of U-23 Asian Cup

Vietnamese players celebrate during the quarterfinal match against Iraq on January 20, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Khoa.

Football fans have gone wild after Vietnam’s dramatic 5-3 penalty shootout win over Iraq.

Vietnam’s national U-23 football team qualified for the semifinals of the AFC U-23 Championship following a historic victory over Iraq on Saturday.

Against the competition’s former champion, the Vietnamese team was considered the underdog but surprisingly took the lead with an early goal. Iraq equalized with a successful penalty kick later in the first half, and a goalless second half brought the two teams to extra time, which saw each team score twice.

Vietnam finally emerged victorious in the penalty shootout after successfully converting all five shots, while one penalty shot from the Iraqi team was blocked by the Vietnamese goalkeeper.

In the remaining quarterfinal matches, Qatar beat Palestine 3-2 while Uzbekistan achieved a 4-0 victory over the reigning champion Japan and South Korea eliminated Malaysia after a 2-1 win.

Vietnam will play against Qatar while Uzbekistan will face South Korea in the semifinals next Tuesday.

This is the first time a Southeast Asian team has reached the semifinals in the history of the competition. 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.

“We deserve the victory today,” Vietnam’s head coach Park Hang-seo said after the match, stressing that it was not just pure luck that the team has managed to go far in the competition.

“I and the players would like to thank all the fans for supporting us throughout the journey,” Park said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc himself congratulated the team in a letter and wished them “health, sucess to firmly advance into the final.”

“The Vietnam U-23 team has worked hard and gifted the fans an unimaginably crazy match,” Tran Quoc Tuan, vice chairman of the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF), told VnExpress.

According to Tuan, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the VFF would each award the team VND1 billion ($44,000) for the achievement.

The team would also receive another VND1.2 billion from three individual fans.

Fans gone wild

Football fans across the country erupted into cheers and took to the streets to celebrate the historic victory, jamming the roads in the process. 

A fan waves the Vietnamese flag in the middle of Hang Bai Street in downtown Hanoi as other fans cheer on their motorbikes.

A fan waves the Vietnamese flag in the middle of Hang Bai Street in downtown Hanoi as other fans cheer on their motorbikes.

Thousands of fans storm through the barriers around the pedestrian zone around Hoan Kiem Lake as they celebrate Vietnams victory over Iraq in the U-23 Asian Cup.

Thousands of fans storm through the barriers around the pedestrian zone around Hoan Kiem Lake as they celebrate Vietnam’s victory over Iraq in the U-23 Asian Cup.

Celebrations around the Hoan Kiem Lake are amplified by pots and pans.

Celebrations around the Hoan Kiem Lake are amplified by pots and pans.

Ho Chi Minh City in the south is also filled with bikers waving Vietnamese flags.

Ho Chi Minh City in the south is also filled with bikers waving Vietnamese flags.

Other fans choose to wave the flags from cars.

Other fans choose to wave the flags from cars.

In Dong Nai Province in southern Vietnam, the streets are also wide awake with cheers.

In Dong Nai Province in southern Vietnam, the streets are also wide awake with cheers.

Association football is the most widely loved sport in Vietnam. However, the national teams’ poor performances in recent years have left many fans frustrated and disappointed.

 

 

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