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Coach Park reveals secret to success with Vietnam

By Xuan Binh   July 28, 2022 | 05:00 am PT
Coach Park reveals secret to success with Vietnam
Coach Park Hang-seo reacts as Vietnam secured victory against Thailand in the SEA Games football final in Hanoi, May 22, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
In an interview with South Korean newspaper Chosun, Vietnam national head coach Park Hang-seo talked about his success with Vietnam and future goals.

"First of all I have to respect the culture and customs of Vietnam. Second is how I organize the coaching staff," Park said of factors that led to his successful run.

"There was a time that Vietnam didn't have a medical team, physical experts or video analyzers. These positions are very important, but they let the head coach take care of everything. A team must gather many experts in every aspect to bring out their full potential."

Park said he is trying to perfect a system that would be easier for his successor.

"My task is to specialize every position on the team and leave it to the successor. I don't know who that might be, but I will try to leave the necessary resources for that person."

When he first came to Vietnam in late 2017, Park said, the first thing he did was try to fit into the culture and customs here. At the same time, he also tried to improve the team.

He did not understand Vietnam's habit of taking a nap at noon, but learned to adopt it. "I found that a nap is quite effective when the weather is hot. After that, the quality of training sessions will improve. Now I also often take a nap at noon. It's reasonable to follow local culture."

According to Park, the best way to communicate with players is to show them that there's no difference between them and the coach.

"If I don't fit in with the team, I can't do anything."

So he learned to take Vietnamese food.

"At first, people prepared South Korean food for me and Vietnamese food for the players. Not that I hate South Korean food, but I asked them to give me Vietnamese food, like the players. They might not realize this, but the players are always looking at the coach. If I eat South Korean food, there will be an invisible psychological barrier between me and the players, causing a negative impact on the team. Now I eat Vietnamese food because I love it," he said.

Yet he also tried to change their eating habit for the better.

"Rice and noodles are the common traditional food of Vietnam. But the players needed a diet that is richer in calories. Instead of telling the players to stop eating rice and noodles, I asked Vietnam Football Federation to send nutritionists to teach them. They said that it was the first time that they learned about nutrition. Now the players pay more attention to their own nutrition," Park said.

In order to boost the mentality of the team before every game, he had to learn about Vietnamese spirit.

"I think the journey of Vietnam to the final of AFC U23 Championship in 2018 is similar to their history when they defeated many stronger opponents to defend the country. I asked the players about Vietnamese spirit because as a South Korean, I didn't understand and I needed them to tell me. Through the discussions, I learned that it's four things: unity, pride, intelligence and undying fighting spirit. Those four factors can also be applied to football. Football is a team sport, requiring players to unite, be proud, be smart and not give up," he said.

The next goal for Park is none other than the 2022 AFF Cup title later this year.

"I want to win the AFF Cup. We did that in 2018 and brought joy to the fans. However, we lost to Thailand in the edition last year and missed the chance to defend the title. This time we will have to redeem ourselves. For the long term, I will try to do what I do best – football."

 
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