Head coach says goodbye to national women's football team

By Hieu Luong   October 23, 2023 | 04:55 pm PT
Head coach Mai Duc Chung has announced he will retire after his contract with the Vietnam national women's football team expires at the end of this year.
Coach Mai Duc Chung on the sideline during the Womens World Cup game between Vietnam and the U.S. on July 22, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

Coach Mai Duc Chung on the sideline during the Women's World Cup game between Vietnam and the U.S. in New Zealand on July 22, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

"I have decided to stop when my contract expires in late 2023," Chung said after a national team training session on Monday morning. "I have been here long enough, and it would be better to have a new coach."

Chung said his replacement could be Japanese coach Akira Iijri, who now works for the women's youth teams from U16-U20. Iijri has been in Vietnam for work since 2019, under the support of the Japanese Football Federation.

"The Japanese coach has managed many youth teams here so he is capable and understands Vietnamese culture. That is the most convenient option because if another foreign coach is hired, it would take some time for them to adapt to the local culture," Chung said.

Chung, 73, spent 12 years as the national women's team head coach over three different periods. Under Chung, Vietnam won six gold medals in eight SEA Games, of which there were four consecutive championship victories from 2017 to 2023. The team also won the 2019 AFF Cup.

Last year, Vietnam achieved a historic feat by qualifying for the 2023 Women's World Cup for the first time ever.

At the tournament in July, Chung set a record as the oldest coach at a World Cup. He was 72 years, 1 month and 11 days old at the time.

Chung initially planned to retire in 2022 but changed his mind when the Vietnam Football Federation extended his contract for another year. In 2023, Chung coached Vietnam to win the SEA Games 32 gold medal in Cambodia. But the team did not make it past the group stage at the World Cup and suffered the same fate at this year's Asian Games.

Vietnam's next tournament will be the 2024 Olympics Paris qualifiers, which will take place from Oct. 26 to Nov. 1 in Uzbekistan. They are in the same group as Japan, Uzbekistan and India.

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