Vietnamese sports in 2020: Goals and challenges

By Hoang Nguyen   January 1, 2020 | 08:17 pm PT
Vietnamese sports in 2020: Goals and challenges
Doan Van Hau celebrates after scoring a brace for Vietnam in the SEA Games 30 final against Indonesia on December 10, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
After a highly successful sporting year for Vietnam, it was always evident the bar would be set high in 2020.

The year saw the country win 98 medals to place second in the SEA Games in December, with events like athletics, swimming and weightlifting making a great contribution.

The gold medals in both men and women's football at the games represented unprecedented success in the country's history of sports.

In 2020 Vietnam will take part in the Tokyo Olympics.

The target is to have 20 athletes qualifying for the quadrennial games and 10-12 for the Paralympics.

At the 2019 review conference in Hanoi last week, the General Department of Sports and Physical Training said winning a medal in the Olympics and successfully defending the AFF Cup title are key goals.

Hoang Quoc Vinh, the head of its High Sports Performance Division I, admitted it would be a huge challenge to have 20 athletes qualifying since only four have achieved qualification norms so far.

The prospects of winning a medal in Tokyo are modest, and even swimmer Nguyen Huy Hoang and gymnast Le Thanh Tung are only targeting entry into the final, he said.

Shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh, who won the only gold medal for Vietnam in 2016, is yet to qualify for Tokyo.

High expectations from men's football team

Vietnamese male footballers have created high hopes after big successes in recent years.

"In 2020 Vietnam must reach the third round of qualification to the World Cup, qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup and defend the AFF Cup title," Vietnam Football Federation vice president Tran Quoc Tuan said.

"The team must aim for an Olympic slot ... and the U19 team's goal is to qualify for the 2021 U20 World Cup.

With all these targets hanging over them, the pressure on coach Park Hang-seo and his players is intense. On January 10 the team will play their first match at the AFC U23 Championship in Thailand, and can win a ticket to the Olympics if they get to the final.

But it may not be easy for the team to repeat their feat of 2018, when they finished runners-up, since they lack some key players and are exhausted due to playing too much.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien said to defend the AFF Cup title in 2020 would be a difficult mission, but in sports one always aims higher.

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