Vietnam battles through to quarterfinals of U23 Asian Cup for first time

By Staff reporters   January 18, 2018 | 09:50 am GMT+7
Vietnam battles through to quarterfinals of U23 Asian Cup for first time
Members of the Vietnam national U-23 football team celebrate with the national flag after qualifying for the U-23 Asian Cup quarterfinals on January 17, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Khoa.

A hard-fought draw against Syria has got fans singing the team's praises, including the PM! 

Vietnam's national U23 football team secured a place in the quarterfinals of the AFC U23 Championship with a goalless draw against Syria on Wednesday.

Syria needed to beat Vietnam to have any hope of reaching the quarterfinals, and despite being a constant threat were unable to break the deadlock.

In the remaining match in group D, South Korea defeated Australia 3-2 and secured a ticket to the quarterfinals by topping the group with 7 points. Vietnam finished second with 4 points, while Australia (3 points) and Syria (2 points) were eliminated.

Vietnam will face Iraq in the the quarterfinals on Saturday, who won the tournament in 2013 and finished third in 2016.

This is the first time Vietnam has reached the quarterfinals in the history of the competition. Along with Malaysia, who qualified following a historic win over Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, they are also the first Southeast Asian teams to achieve this feat.

"This is a historic moment for Vietnamese football," said Nguyen Quang Hai, the hero of Vietnam's victory over Australia last Sunday.

Vietnam's head coach Park Hang-seo, who has been working with the U23 team for just over 40 days, thanked his players for the achievement.

"Vietnam has achieved the unthinkable," Park said.

Following the match, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc sent a letter congratulating and praising the team, especially Park, for reaching the quarterfinals.

"[The team has] brought pride to the Fatherland, to fans across the country, and demonstrated the Vietnamese youth's fortitude and desire to improve," Phuc wrote.

The Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) has decided to award the team VND1.4 billion ($61,700) for reaching the quarterfinals, Tran Quoc Tuan, vice chairman of the VFF, told VnExpress.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien has also said the team will receive a VND200 million bonus.

Association football is the most widely loved sport in Vietnam. However, the national teams' poor performances in recent years have left many fans frustrated and disappointed.

 
 
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