Vietnam's historic 2018 upset win 'special,' AFC says

By Hoang Nguyen   April 6, 2024 | 11:00 pm PT
Vietnam's historic 2018 upset win 'special,' AFC says
Vietnam's lineup at the 2018 U23 Asian Cup in Changzhou, China. Photo by AFC
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) mentioned Vietnam’s unlikely victory in an article about the history of the U23 Asian Cup ahead of the 2024 edition.

Before the 2024 U23 Asian Cup, the AFC website posted an article about special highlights in the tournament's history.

U23 Vietnam was named the biggest surprise for reaching the final and becoming runner-up of the 2018 edition.

AFC's article pointed out that there are five teams that have dominated the U23 Asian Cup since the first edition in 2018: Iraq, Japan, Uzbekistan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. These teams have participated in all editions and are also the five teams that have won the title.

"Besides the former champions, Vietnam are the only team to have made it into the final of any of the previous five editions, losing 1-2 to Uzbekistan in extra time," AFC wrote.

AFC also recalled Vietnam's journey at the 2018 U23 Asian Cup, pointing out Nguyen Quang Hai's brilliant performance, highlighted by the stunning "rainbow in the snow" free kick against Uzbekistan in the final under heavy blizzard.

"A new generation of Vietnamese stars, inspired by Nguyen Quang Hai were rising to prominence as they eliminated Australia, Iraq and Qatar in a magnificent run to the final that saw tens of thousands of fans take to the streets in celebration across the Southeast Asian country," AFC added.

At the 2024 U23 Asian Cup, Vietnam will play their opening match against Kuwait on April 17. In the next two matches, coach Hoang Anh Tuan and his team will meet Malaysia on April 20 and Uzbekistan on the 23rd.

Assessing the chance of Vietnam advancing from group D, AFC commented that Uzbekistan are the strongest contender for the first position while Vietnam will also face tough competition with Malaysia and Kuwait.

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