Vietnam captain says stunning U23 Asian Cup run thanks to 'crazy' fans back home

By Vi Vu   January 25, 2018 | 03:54 pm GMT+7

‘We will try to give them a bigger present from the final match,’ said Luong Xuan Truong. 

Vietnam's captain has attributed the football team's success at the AFC U23 Championship in China to the fans back home and promised to return with “a bigger present” from the final.

Luong Xuan Truong said the team's stunning cup run is thanks to the massive support from home.

“Everyone back in Vietnam is going absolutely crazy, and that is one of the best forms of motivation for the players here in China,” Truong said in an interview with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after his team beat Qatar in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Vietnam had to come from a goal down twice against Qatar to force extra time, before goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung made a double save in the penalty shootout to send the nation into ecstasy.

Millions of Vietnamese fans stormed the streets with flags, including Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam who was seen wearing a red T-shirt, the official color of the Vietnamese team. Foreign visitors were also quick to join in the celebrations.

“I feel amazed,” Truong said, as cited by a report on AFC website.

Before the Qatar march, Vietnamese fans were already walking on air after their team’s victories over strong competitors Australia in the group stage and Iraq in the quarterfinals.

“U23 Vietnam” has been become THE topic of conversation across the country, from cafés and bars to family dinners, and some brands are offering discounts to people with the same names as the players to honor their performances.

Truong said that he can't believe his team has got so far, as he said thank you for all the support.

“We will try to give them a bigger present from the final match.”

Luong Xuan Truong (R) during the Vietnam-Qatar match at the AFC U23 Championship on Tuesday. Photo by VnExpress/Van Khoa

Luong Xuan Truong (R) during the Vietnam-Qatar match at the AFC U23 Championship on Tuesday. Photo by VnExpress/Van Khoa

Truong, 22, plays in central midfield for South Korean club Gangwon FC, where he is on loan from V-League side Hoang Anh Gia Lai.

The team's success has earned its South Korean coach Park Hang-seo plaudits from around the world. The media in his home country has nicknamed him the “Guus Hiddink of Vietnam,” after the Dutch coach who led the South Korean national team to fourth place at the 2002 World Cup.

Park said in an exclusive interview with FourFourTwo that his main job is to make sure the Vietnamese players believe in themselves, because they are actually as good as big teams like Japan and South Korea.

He said his job now is to lead Vietnam to the next step in Changzhou by defeating Uzbekistan on Saturday.

 
 
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