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'We can win': Coach of Vietnam's football team ahead of AFC U23 semis

'Qatar is a strong competitor but we have great belief that we can win,' said the Korean coach.

Vietnam, football team, AFC U23 semis, semifinal, Qatar, strong competitor, great belief, Korean coach, Park Hang-seo, football fans, first team

Park Hang-seo, head coach of Vietnam's national U23 football team, hugs Xuan Truong, the team's captain after Vietnam beats Iraq to go into the semifinal of the AFC U23 Championship 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Khoa.

During the final minutes of Vietnam's last two matches at the AFC U23 Championship, head coach Park Hang-seo was virtually invisible.

The nerves and tension surrounding the games had become too much for the South Korean coach to take.

Images of Park burying his face behind the technical area are not easy to forget, especially after the Vietnamese team made history, not once, but twice.

On January 17, Vietnam’s U23 national team thrilled football fans across the country by reaching the quarterfinals of the AFC U23 for the first time ever, thanks to a goalless draw against Syria. Vietnam and Malaysia are the first Southeast Asian teams to achieve the feat.

Three days later, Vietnamese fans erupted when their team kept the dream alive by reaching the semifinals thanks to a dramatic victory over Iraq.

Vietnam went into the game as the underdog against the former champion but took the lead with an early goal. Iraq equalized with a successful penalty later in the first half, and a goalless second half brought the two teams to extra time, which saw each team score twice.

Vietnam, football team, AFC U23 semis, semifinal, Qatar, strong competitor, great belief, Korean coach, Park Hang-seo, football fans, first team

Coach Park Hang-seo can't look in the final minutes of the match between Vietnam and Syria on January 17. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Khoa.

Vietnam finally emerged victorious in the resulting penalty shootout after successfully converting all five spot kicks.

As the final penalty was being taken, coach Park had to turn away again.

Talking to his team after the win against Iraq, Park said: “You deserve this. There is no luck that can make a miracle. Miracles come from blood and sweat.”

But Park will not let the team rest on their laurels. They have to be ready for semi-final against Qatar on Tuesday.

“There is something you all should not forget, we are a team and we have to be united. Vietnam still have to fight and should not be satisfied with what we have achieved,” he told his team.

Qatar has scored seven goals in four games, and conceded just three, while Vietnam has an even goal difference in games played within 90 minutes.

Qatari players are optimistic about their chances against Vietnam, Qatar’s English daily newspaper Gulf Times said in a Sunday report, in which it called Vietnamese players “giant-killers.”

For many Vietnamese fans who for years have watched their team perform in the Southeast Asian playground only, coach Park Hang-seo and his players are already heroes, no matter whether they make it through to the final or not.

Source: VnExpress

Vietnam, football team, AFC U23 semis, semifinal, Qatar, strong competitor, great belief, Korean coach, Park Hang-seo, football fans, first team
 
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