Coach Park Hang Seo has led Vietnam to secure a berth at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in his debut with the team this week, but the South Korean did not have time to delight in his mission accomplished.
Park, who was appointed the Vietnam coach in October, has in fact been criticized for his lackluster leadership in the first official game with the team, a goalless draw against Afghanistan on home soil in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifying game on Tuesday.
Vietnam have booked a place in the finals, to take place in the United Arab Emirates in January-February 2019, one match before the qualifiers finish, but the South Korean coach could not take much credit for this achievement.
“In their first match under new Korean coach Park Hang-seo, Vietnam was a shadow of the side that we’ve seen evolve over the past couple of years,” Scott McIntyre wrote on Fox Sports.
Park only began to start leading the team one week before the Afghanistan match.
|Vietnam's coach Park Hang Seo (left) congratulates striker Anh Duc after their match against Afghanistan in Hanoi on November 14, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Vietnam have played the Asian Cup qualifiers under the leadership of three different coaches, and Park happened to take the helm in the decisive game.
The Golden Stars started their journey to secure a ticket to the United Arab Emirates championship with coach Nguyen Huu Thang in charge.
However, Thang stepped down in August, following Vietnam’s failure to advance to the semifinals at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The Vietnam Football Federation, the country’s football governing body, was quickly to invite the 58-year-old South Korean coach to fill in the vacancy without much consideration.
During a short window when paperwork was processed for the official appointment of Park, Mai Duc Chung, a seasoned coach who has won titles with the Vietnamese women’s team, was selected as an interim manager for the Golden Stars.
Chung coached Vietnam to beat Cambodia, both at home and away, in the Asian Cup qualification, making it an easy task for Park when he only needed one point in the remaining two games of the qualifiers.
Park used the same formation and players with which Chung had earned two victories over Cambodia in the Afghanistan clash, and the goalless draw was just enough for the South Korean.
|Vietnam's coach Park Hang Seo speaks at a post-match press conference in Hanoi on November 14, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Vietnamese coach Hoang Anh Tuan, who headed Vietnam at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, seemed more sympathetic to Park, saying one week with the team was too short for him to make any significant changes.
“It is too early to give any comment on the strengths and weaknesses of Vietnam under the leadership of Park Hang Seo,” Tuan said in a piece to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“A coach needs time to apply his playing strategy to the players and what Park had was merely one week.”
Tuan said what is most important is that Vietnam have booked a ticket to the Asian Cup regardless of the last qualifying game.
“So we should congratulate Park and his players instead of making comments,” he concluded.
The Asian Cup is the quadrennial international men's football championship of Asia organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
After five qualifying matches, 20 teams have secured a berth at the championship.
The remaining four finalists will be decided in the last qualifying round in March 2018.