Vietnam showed ‘indomitable spirit’ in toughest game, says Park

By Lam Thoa, Lam Dong   December 5, 2019 | 03:34 am PT
Vietnam showed ‘indomitable spirit’ in toughest game, says Park
South Korean coach Park Hang-seo cheers after the final whistle in Vietnam vs Thailand match at SEA Games in the Philippines, December 5, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
Vietnam have passed the most difficult test in men’s football at this year’s SEA Games, the team’s coach said after a 2-2 tie Thursday.

South Korean coach Park Hang-seo was speaking to the press after Vietnam came back from two goals down to force a draw against its arch rival Thailand, sending the team through to the semifinals.

"It’s been a tough game today, possibly the toughest Vietnam has gone through in this year’s SEA Games group stage. But we tied and won a ticket into the semifinal. Like the match against Singapore, the first half was a tough one, losing two goals. But once again, our players have shown their indomitable spirit, without giving up," he said.

Regarding the goal conceded in the fifth minute, when Vietnamese goalkeeper Nguyen Van Toan carelessly kicked the ball and it bounced off Thai forward Supachai Jaided back into the net, Park said he had no intention to scold his player and had no further comments on the matter.

Park said he had anticipated the difficulties Vietnam would have to face against Thailand, but he never lost faith in his players’ abilities.

"Every game, we have some different plans. We need to strategize, change the players, switch positions, and the first half is usually tough. But we always have a long-term game plan to react to every scenario," he said.

Japanese coach Akira Nishino of the Thai men’s football team was gracious in his acknowledgements after the match.

"I know Park Hang-seo is a good coach. I also respect the improvement of Vietnamese football. I hope other Southeast Asian football teams will also improve," said Nishino.

"Today both teams played well. But the 2-2 result was not enough to take us into the semifinal," he added.

"This is my first tournament with Thailand’s U23 team. We have a lot to do, so the players can improve. The players have the skills, but lack experience. That’s something we have to work on."

The 2-2 draw against Thailand allowed Vietnam to remain on top of their group and move into the semi-final, while Thailand, the winner at the previous tournament, were eliminated.

Vietnam will face Cambodia next on Saturday.

Vietnamese men have set themselves the target of winning their first ever SEA Games football gold this year.

Vietnam 2-2 Thailand

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