Vietnam scores impressive goal as competitive football returns

By Hoang Nguyen   May 25, 2020 | 04:13 pm PT
Vietnam scores impressive goal as competitive football returns
Fans fill up Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh Province for the first game of Vietnamese football after more than two months of pandemic break on May 23, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Vietnam has earned international kudos as the first country in Southeast Asia to resume competitive football even as the Covid-19 pandemic rages worldwide.

After a long break, Vietnamese football resumed last weekend with the first round of the 2020 National Cup.

"Competitive action returned to Vietnam at the weekend with the 2020 Vietnamese Cup getting underway as the Southeast Asian nation became the first in ASEAN to resume after the Covid-19 enforced hiatus," wrote Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

AFC also said the National Cup games will be a good appetizer before the top competition in Vietnam, V. League 1, returns on June 5 with a modified format.

Vietnam's vibrant football atmosphere returned Saturday afternoon with 10,000 spectators, half of the stadium's capacity, coming to Thien Truong Stadium in the northern Nam Dinh Province to watch the clash between hosts Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh and Hoang Anh Gia Lai.

Thai sports site Siamsport remarked that "Vietnamese football fans are perhaps the happiest in the world at the moment," being able to enjoy the stadium atmosphere again in the National Cup games after they were postponed for two months.

The site also said that the image of Thien Truong Stadium filled with fans wearing yellow, the traditional color of the host club Nam Dinh, left a great impression, as regional football hasn't witnessed such atmosphere on the field for months.

The return of Vietnamese football is a big encouragement for regional countries to fight Covid-19 and get football back to normal, it said.

Famous football site Goal also congratulated Vietnam for being able to bring back competitive football with spectators so early while world football is still struggling with the pandemic.

"Congratulations to the Vietnamese fans as they are the happiest in the world right now," Goal wrote.

South Korean news agency Yonhap called the Thien Truong stadium game "special" as it is the first football game that allows spectators during the Covid-19 period.

Another news site, Japanese Viet-jo, observed: "Allowing 10,000 fans to watch the game live turned it into the most crowded match in the world at the moment. As the pandemic has been controlled in Vietnam, resuming tournaments and allowing spectators for the games will attract great attention from the world."

Vietnam had decided in March to postpone all sport events in the country, including football competitions, when the Covid-19 situation worsened. It relaxed a social distancing campaign on April 23 and allowed most non-essential services except karaoke and disco bars to reopen.

Another sports event, the HTV Cub which is a bike race from the north-central province of Nghe An to HCMC, is also going on in Vietnam and has won global attention for being the world's first bike race amid the pandemic.

The country remains closed to foreign tourists and international flights are temporarily suspended except for special cases.

Vietnam marked the 40th straight day without new Covid-19 cases caused by community transmission Tuesday. Of the total 326 recorded cases, 272 have recovered and 54 are active patients.

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