Football has inspired patriotism and national pride, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said as he hosted Vietnam’s national football team and their head coach in Hanoi on Friday, one week after the squad won Southeast Asia’s top football competition.
The Vietnamese premier greeted and shook hands with all 34 members of the squad and their South Korean manager, Park Hang-seo, at the reception.
Vietnam beat Malaysia in Hanoi on December 15 to win the 2018 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship, their second regional title in ten years.
PM Phuc praised head coach Park, other coaches and players of the national team, speaking highly of their efforts to bring home the victory.
|Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (left) gives head coach Park Hang-seo of Vietnam’s national football team a hug at a reception in Hanoi December 21, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The South Korean coach thanked the premier for his great encouragement and support, underlining that the triumph belongs to not only the team but also all Vietnamese people.
Park said winning the second AFF Cup in Vietnam’s football history is an important milestone, but quickly went on to say that he and his players now have a higher target - the Asian playground.
Coach Park and his men will start their next big tournament on the Asian football calendar - the 2019 AFC Asian Cup - in the United Arab Emirates next month, where the Golden Stars share Group D with strong rivals Iran, Iraq and Yemen.
Vietnam played at the finals of the continental championships just once since 1975, reaching the quarter-finals as co-hosts in 2007.
“I and my players will try our best to have bigger achievements at the continental playground,” Park stressed.
|Vietnam's Dinh Trong gives his autograph to staff members of the Government Office. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
PM Phuc said following Vietnam’s success run at the 2018 AFF Championship, high hope has been pinned on the national football team and the development of Vietnamese football.
“The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism should direct the Vietnam Football Federation to make necessary preparations in terms of policies for the head coach and players so that they could have better performances at the following tournaments,” the head of government requested.
|Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (left) hands over the second-class Labor Order to midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
During Friday’s reception, PM Phuc also granted a Friendship Order to head coach Park Hang-seo and a first-class Labor Order to the national football team.
Nguyen Quang Hai, the Most Valuable Player of the 2018 AFF Championship, received a second-class Labor Order, while 15 other members of the team were presented with third-class Labor Orders.
The premier also bestowed certificates of merit on 17 members of the team in recognition of their contributions to the victory.
At the event, Do Quang Hien, Chairman of T&T Group, announced a bonus of VND3 billion (US$128,700) for members of the national football team.