Park Hang-seo: the legendary football coach of Vietnam

By Nhan Dat, Duc Dong   December 12, 2019 | 04:30 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese football fans have dubbed national coach Park Hang-seo a "wizard" following a rare string of successes for his team.
Park Hang-seo: the legendary football coach of Vietnam

The South Korean tactician took Vietnam to the final of the 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship in what was his first tournament after taking over as head coach in 2017.

Vietnam, unfancied at that time, won plaudits by beating several top teams en route to the final. First they beat Australia 1-0 in the group stage. They then beat Iraq in the quarterfinals and Qatar in the semifinals, both on penalties.

But heartbreakingly they lost 1-2 to Uzbekistan in the last minute of extra time in thick snow in Changzhou, China.

It was the first time Vietnam had made the final of any continental championship, and the foreword had been written for the legend of Park.

Park Hang-seo: the legendary football coach of Vietnam

The team continued to create a buzz with victory over Japan, a regional powerhouse, to top Group D at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. They went on to beat Bahrain 1-0 to reach the quarterfinals and Syria 1-0 to reach the last four.

The team's dream run ended with a 1-3 defeat to South Korea though they fought valiantly until the final whistle.

Vietnam finished fourth after losing to the UAE on penalties in the bronze medal match.

But this was a performance to gladden their fans' hearts, and it seemed Park could do no wrong.

Park Hang-seo: the legendary football coach of Vietnam

They next won the 2018 AFF Cup, the country's first title in 10 years.

The team were unbeaten in the group stage, easily saw off the Philippines 2-1 and 4-2 in the two-legged semifinals before beating Malaysia 3-2 in the final, with the winning goal coming in their home leg in Hanoi.

Park Hang-seo: the legendary football coach of Vietnam

Next up was the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE where again all the big boys were playing.

Though Park had the youngest squad in the tournament, they again punched much above their weight.

They entered the round of 16 with a 2-0 win over Yemen, and met Jordan. The match went into a penalty shootout and Vietnam advanced to the quarterfinals with a 4-2 score.

In the last eight they again ran into Japan, but this time lost 0-1.

Park Hang-seo: the legendary football coach of Vietnam

In March this year Park worked his magic yet again in the 2020 AFC U23 Championship qualifiers as Vietnam beat Brunei (6-0) and Indonesia (1-0).

The coach and his young wards asserted that they were no longer afraid of Thailand after earning a 4-0 victory against the longtime rival, sealing a place in the finals that will take place in January.

Vietnam started the qualifiers in September with two goalless matches against Thailand, beat the UAE 1-0, edged Malaysia 1-0 and defeating Indonesia 3-1.

Park Hang-seo: the legendary football coach of Vietnam

In early November, Park won the ASEAN Football Federation coach of the year award and signed the new three-year contract with Vietnam Football Federation.

According to the contract, the 60-year-old coach will manage the national team, the under-23 team and the Olympic team and will take the teams to the final of every Southeast Asian event. Another requirement for Park is to take Vietnam to the 2023 Asian Cup final.

Vietnam Football Federation will increase his monthly salary, reported to be much higher than the $20,000 he is receiving. The deal also agrees that Park can keep all of his South Korean assistants.

Park Hang-seo: the legendary football coach of Vietnam

On December 10, Vietnam's cup of joy overflows with first ever SEA Games gold as the U22 men’s team romped to a 3-0 win against Indonesia.

It looks like Park has fulfilled the promise of making it a leading team in Southeast Asia and competitive in Asia.

 
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