Coach Troussier apologizes to Vietnamese fans

By Hieu Luong   April 5, 2024 | 12:48 am PT
Coach Troussier apologizes to Vietnamese fans
Coach Philippe Troussier (C) discusses with an interpreter and assistant Nguyen Viet Thang (L) during Vietnam's 0-3 loss to Indonesia at My Dinh Stadium, Hanoi in the second qualification round of the 2026 World Cup on March 26, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
After leaving Vietnam for France, coach Philippe Troussier wrote a letter on social media to express his thoughts, send an apology and show gratitude during his stint as the national team manager.

Troussier said he wrote the letter to talk about his year of managing the national and U23 team of Vietnam, with gratitude and humility.

He had enough time to reflect after nine days, from March 26, when his contract with Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) was terminated early after Vietnam's 0-3 defeat to Indonesia in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi.

"Throughout our journey, it is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge the recent disappointments we faced in the World Cup qualifiers. As the leader of the team, I bear the weight of these results, and I extend my acceptance of responsibilities to all.

"To the passionate supporters of Vietnam football, I offer my most sincere gratitude and apologies. Your unwavering enthusiasm has been a source of inspiration for the team, and I am deeply humbled by your encouragement even in the time of displeasure," Troussier wrote.

The French coach thanked the members of the coaching staff, logistics and media of the team. He mentioned each person's name with appreciation for their professionalism and tireless work, including the silent support behind the scenes.

Dubbed the "White Witch Doctor" for his successful stint in Africa, Troussier has managed Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa, and Burkina Faso.

His international career peaked during his stint in Japan from 1998 to 2002 when he won the 2000 AFC Asian Cup. Two years later, he led Japan to the final 16 at the 2002 World Cup, the country's best-ever run in the competition at the time.

In 2020, the Asian Football Confederation named him one of the greatest coaches in Asian Cup history.

Troussier acted as a strategic adviser and then technical director of the Promotion Fund of Vietnamese Football Talent Academy in 2018. He was appointed head coach of Vietnam U19 team a year later, who he helped qualify for the 2020 U19 AFC Championship, which was canceled due to Covid-19. He left after his contract with VFF expired in June 2021.

After coach Park Hang-seo left in early 2023, VFF decided to sign a long-term contract with Troussier, from February 2023 to July 2026, with the goal of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup when the tournament increased the number of participating teams from 32 to 48. However, he disappointed the fans time and time again.

With only four wins after 14 matches, Troussier has the lowest winning rate (28.57%) of all foreign coaches who have managed the Vietnam national team.

When he arrived, Vietnam were 94th in FIFA ranking. But now the team have fallen to 115th, their lowest position in many years. At the U23 level, Vietnam under Troussier also lost 3-2 to Indonesia in the semifinals of SEA Games 32 in May 2023.

The 69-year-old coach said his heart was heavy after disappointing performances in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, a big goal that made him determined to manage Vietnam, but also cost him his job.

"I extend my warmest regards and best wishes to all who have been a part of this journey. It has been an honor and privilege for myself, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to serve the nation of Vietnam."

On Wednesday, before flying back to France, Troussier said he would take time to rest and treat his knee problem and he was not in a hurry to return to work right away.

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