Vietnam’s fairy tale run to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in South Korea has ended after they managed only one point from the group stage, but there will not be angry fans waiting for them back home.
As tournament debutants, Vietnam U-20s were not expected to progress. Vietnamese fans were, however, keen to see how they would perform at the country’s first-ever FIFA World Cup tournament.
Vietnam went down 2-0 to Honduras in their final group-stage game on Sunday, following a 4-0 loss to France and a brave 0-0 draw with New Zealand.
“We have to admire the players’ spirit and vigor,” local coach Doan Minh Xuong told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“They played bravely and with the highest spirit at the World Cup.”
Xuong said Vietnamese fans had not expected their team to advance at the tournament in South Korea.
“Supporters hope that the World Cup campaign will be a meaningful experience for the young players, thanks to which they can improve in the future,” he said.
Even though it was an unsurprising result, Vietnamese fans remained a little downhearted about the fact that their team failed to score a goal at the tournament.
Vietnam U-20s became the country’s first team to earn a point at an official 11-a-side FIFA tournament, after their opening round goalless draw with New Zealand. However, their pride would have been greater if they had managed to score a goal in any one of their three group matches.
“We tried to score that historic goal during the Honduras match, but all efforts failed,” Vietnam coach Hoang Anh Tuan said.
Tuan said that he is not upset by the team’s elimination however.
“You all know how strong our rivals were,” he said.
“I am proud of my men and their spirit.”
Tuan said Vietnamese football would develop after this historic World Cup campaign. Yet, he admits that when Vietnam will return to another FIFA World Cup is uncertain.
“We have to keep on dreaming,” he said.
“We hadn’t expected to make the U-20 World Cup, but we did.”
On their return to Vietnam, Tuan said the next big thing for his players was to earn selection for the upcoming 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, a shop window for under-23 players.
“Or maybe they will be called up for the 2019 SEA Games,” he said.
“In the future Vietnamese football will progress. Let’s just wait and see!”
The U-20 World Cup round of 16 will begin on Tuesday.