'I understand disappointment of Vietnamese fans': coach Troussier

By Lam Thoa   April 4, 2024 | 06:35 am PT
'I understand disappointment of Vietnamese fans': coach Troussier
Coach Philippe Troussier in Vietnam's 0-3 loss to Indonesia in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on March 26, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Before leaving Vietnam, a contrite coach Philippe Troussier said he regretted not having enough time to realize his long-term plan for the national team, while also admitting he had disappointed fans.

After two consecutive defeats to Indonesia in the second qualifying round of the 2026 World Cup in March, Troussier parted ways with the Vietnam Football Federation.

With only three points after four matches, Vietnam have almost no chance of advancing to the third qualifying round. At the Asian Cup earlier this year, Vietnam under Troussier also lost to Japan, Indonesia and Iraq, exiting the tournament from group stage without a point.

"I understand the disappointment of Vietnamese fans," coach Troussier said before boarding a plane to return to France on Wednesday night. "When I arrived, they had high expectations for me. I'm sorry that I couldn't bring joy to everyone. I will miss Vietnam."

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 (PVF) 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 2-3 to Indonesia in the semifinals of SEA Games 32 in May 2023.

"Maybe I have failed. I regret not having enough time to realize my plan. I really wanted to build a long-term goal for Vietnamese football. My previous success came from my passion and hard work. The path to success is not a straight line," Troussier added.

The 69-year-old coach hopes that after parting ways with him, Vietnamese football will still aim for the best international competition. He said he would now take time to rest and treat his knee problem when he returns to France as he is not eager to return to work right away.

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