Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has sent a letter to the national under-23 football team to congratulate them on their win over Iraq in the quarterfinals of the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China.
The victory over the Iraqis at Changshu Stadium on Saturday night earned Vietnam a ticket to the semifinals of the championship, where the team will face Qatar on January 23.
Vietnam took the lead for two times before drawing 3-3 against Iraq after 120 minutes in the thrilling game.
They continued to beat the Iraqis 5-3 in a tense penalty shootout.
In his congratulatory letter, Prime Minister Phuc shared the joy with the Vietnamese U23 team as well as football fans across the Southeast Asian country.
“With the will and courage of the Vietnamese people and under the leadership of coach Park Hang-seo, our team achieved victory over the Iraqi players,” the head of government stated.
This is the first time the Vietnamese have made it to the last-four round at the continental tourney for young players, he continued, adding that it is the pride of the entire nation.
“On behalf of the government, I congratulate the U23 team and coach Park Hang-seo,” the premier said.
He expressed his hope that the Vietnamese team will continue the spirit in the upcoming semifinals.
Held from January 9 to 27, the AFC Under-23 Championship is a biennial competition featuring 16 of Asia’s top teams in the age group.
Vietnam started their journey in China with a 1-2 loss after taking the lead to South Korea before stunning Australia 1-0 and drawing 0-0 with Syria, advancing to the knockout stage as the Group D runners-up, second to the Koreans.
The team have gone down to history as the first-ever team in Southeast Asia to qualify for a semi spot at the Asian U-23 championship.