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Vietnam bow out of 2020 AFC U23 Championship

Friday, January 17, 2020, 17:13 GMT+7
Vietnam bow out of 2020 AFC U23 Championship
Vietnam’s goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung makes a howler to gift North Korea a goal during their last Group D match at the 2020 AFC U23 Championship on January 17. Photo: Duc Thien / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam made a disappointing exit from the 2020 AFC U23 Championship after finishing at the bottom of Group D with a 1-2 defeat at the hands of North Korea on Thursday evening.

The junior Golden Dragons, the tournament’s 2018 runners-up in China, were eliminated following a lackluster overall performance, having scored only one goal throughout the tournament and a red card at the very last moments of Thursday’s match.

The game started well for Vietnam with striker Nguyen Tien Linh netting their first goal in the 16th minute but goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung let a North Korean shot slip past just 11 minutes later.

The Vietnamese side missed a string of chances in the opening 15 minutes of the second half before their gateway to the knockout stage of the championship was pretty much shut down in the 80th minute, when the score of the other Group D fixture between the UAE and Jordan changed to 1-1, meaning that even a win still would not give Vietnam enough points to advance past the group stage should the UAE-Jordan match end in a draw.

The already disappointing performance continued its decline into the 90th minute when Kim Hwang Hyok was needlessly clattered inside the box by Tran Bao Toan.

Vietnam’s striker Nguyen Tien Linh scores the opening to North Korea’s net during their last Group D match at the 2020 AFC U23 Championship on January 17, which was also his team’s only goal at the competition. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam’s striker Nguyen Tien Linh finds North Korea’s net during their last Group D match at the 2020 AFC U23 Championship on January 17, which was also his team’s only goal at the competition. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

North Korea were awarded a penalty and Ri Chung Gyu successfully sent Bui Tien Dung the wrong way to claim an impressive comeback win for his team, officially ending Vietnam’s dream of advancing.

Adding insult to injury, Tran Dinh Trong was sent off the field with a second yellow card for his tackle on North Korea’s Pak Kwang Hun in the 90+4th minute.

Having needed a win at the very least to keep their tournament hopes alive, the results put Vietnam at the bottom of their group and shattered their championship dreams.

Meanwhile, the UAE and Jordan booked the quarterfinal berths of the 2020 AFC U23 Championship as Group D’s leaders and runners-up, respectively, after their game settled in a 1-1 draw.

Speaking at a press conference held after the game, head coach Park Hang Seo accepted full responsibility for Vietnam’s exit from the competition.

“Two years ago we were runners-up in this competition, but this year we were not great and we were not able to achieve what the Vietnamese people anticipated from us,” said Park. 

“But the players did their best and the responsibility for this result is mine as head coach. We’ll try to do better next time.”

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