South Korea’s avid interest in Vietnamese football revealed

By An Hong   January 20, 2019 | 11:17 pm PT
South Korea’s avid interest in Vietnamese football revealed
Vietnamese players celebrate after winning their first knockout game at Asian Cup 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
'Vietnam-Jordan' was second on the list of most searched keywords on South Korean portal Naver on Sunday night.

The news of Vietnam securing a ticket to Asian Cup quarterfinals after winning the penalty shootout against Jordan has gone viral on social media in South Korea.

The avid interest South Koreans have been taking in Vietnamese football of late is reflected in the fact that "Vietnam-Jordan" ranked second on the list of most searched keywords on Naver, the largest online portal in South Korea, on Sunday night, right after the match ended.

A video capturing the highlights of the Vietnam-Jordan match has also gone viral on Naver Sports, one of the most popular sports sites in South Korea, with more than 200,000 views.

Vietnam played a brilliant game against Jordan at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai, winning 4-2 in the penalty shootout, after extra time had failed to break a 1-1 deadlock. The victory took Vietnam into the quarterfinals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019. They will play the winner of the Saudi Arabia-Japan match on January 24.

Vietnam entered the game as the underdog, being one of the third-ranked teams selected from the group stage, while Jordan had topped their group, beating defending champions Australia on the way.

The success of Vietnamese men’s football team under South Korean coach Park Hang-seo has not only attracted global attention, but also sparked a love for Vietnamese football among South Koreans.

Park, 60, played for the Korean national team before starting his professional coaching career in 1989.

He was an assistant to Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who led Korea to the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup and the U23 team to a bronze medal at the Asian Games the same year.

Park became the head coach of the Vietnamese men’s national and U23 football teams in November 2017, and led the latter to second place at the Asian U23 Championship for the first time just a couple of months later.

Then, the Vietnamese Olympic team, mostly comprising players from the U23 team, qualified for the semifinals of the 2018 Asian Games for the first time in history. They eventually finished fourth in the competition.

Towards the end of last year, Vietnam emphasized its dominant position in Southeast Asia by winning the AFF Suzuki Cup after a gap of 10 years. Following the series of successes, Park was named one of the four Asians of the Year by the Asia Journalist Association last month.

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