National forward releases parody T-shirt of viral fall against Malaysia

By Hoang Nguyen   June 15, 2021 | 12:32 am PT
Vietnamese forward Nguyen Van Toan has made a comical move by releasing a T-shirt line depicting his fall in the game between Vietnam and Malaysia.

The 2-1 victory of Vietnam over Malaysia last Friday helped the Golden Dragons move closer to the final round of World Cup qualifiers.

The winning goal came in the 82nd minute after Nguyen Van Toan was fouled inside the box and Japanese referee Sato Ryuji gave a penalty to Vietnam. Captain Que Ngoc Hai successfully converted the opportunity to secure the important win.

However, Malaysian media were not happy with the referee’s decision to award Vietnam a penalty, with some dubbing it "controversial" and suspecting Toan had dived after short TV replays failed to capture the incident.

In the face of all the backlash, Toan turned the tide to his favor, by releasing a T-shirt line based on the viral incident, using the surge in his Facebook interaction as free marketing. The black T-shirt features the image of Toan’s fall in the game with the text "It’s Real", implying he didn’t dive.

The Its Real T-shirt by Nguyen Van Toan.

The "It's Real" T-shirt by Nguyen Van Toan.

Under the promotion photo for the T-shirt, he wrote a quirky caption: "When you have a talent for business, but your parents want you to play football."

Many fans found Toan’s move clever and amusing. There were thousands of pre-orders for the T-shirt after just a few days. The limited-edition 1,000 T-shirts with Toan’s signature have been sold out.

Footage captured by a fan in the game later showed a Malaysia player stepping on Toan's heel, causing the 25-year-old to fall. This video confirmed Toan didn't dive but was actually fouled and the penalty was a correct decision.

"When I entered the penalty area and used my right foot to control the ball, the Malaysia defender kicked my left heel. I didn't fake my fall to earn a penalty," Toan told VnExpress on Saturday.

Vietnam will play UAE in the last group G World Cup Asian qualifier Tuesday night. The Golden Dragons will secure a spot in the final qualìying round if they don't lose.

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