Vietnam deserved to win AFF Cup 2018

Sunday, 2018-12-16 16:09:33
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Vietnamese players celebrate with the AFF Cup 2018 trophy. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)
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NDO - After a decade of waiting, the Vietnamese team once again stepped up to take the the AFF Suzuki Cup, as coach Park Hang-seo’s side defeated Malaysian 1-0 in the final second leg at Hanoi’s My Dinh on December 15 evening to win 3-2 on aggregate and be crowned champions in a convincing manner. The impressive journey by the red-shirted men received much praise from the international media.

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Right after the game at My Dinh Stadium last night, FOX Sports Asia ran an article pointing out the reasons why the Vietnam team are fully deserving winners of the AFF Cup 2018 title. “The Golden Dragons were excellent throughout their AFF Suzuki Cup campaign, and in the end, lifted the trophy,” it said, adding that the simple reason behind their success was that they knew how to play together.

Appreciating the spirit of teamwork, FOX Sports said that the success of Vietnam comes from solidarity: "The Golden Dragons were one of the few sides who didn’t rely overly on individual performances and overcame every challenge as one.”

Another reason is that Vietnam also showed stability in their play. Contrary to the former winners Thailand who beat Timor Leste 7-0 in the early stage of the tournament but were eliminated in the semi-finals, Vietnam played steadily and looked excellent throughout. The Golden Dragons maintained a series of eight unbeaten games throughout the tournament, with a total of six wins and two draws to win the title.

Going deep into the analysis, FOX Sports surveyed two notable highlights in this year's excellent journey by the team, which was very good use of the opportunities created to score, while the defensive line was always strong. At the AFF Cup 2018, Vietnam remained loyal to their defensive style, sitting deep to wait for the opportunity to launch counters. Therefore, despite not having the majority of possession in most of the past few games, Park’s players still found a way to score goals on the counter and rake in the wins.

Striker Nguyen Anh Duc in action during the match. (Photo: AFF Suzuki Cup)

According to FOX Sports, Vietnam have a lethal attack coming from 33-year-old Nguyen Anh Duc. The veteran striker leads the line for the Golden Dragons on almost every occasion and provided positive returns when he was on the pitch. Anh Duc even turned out to be the match-winner for Vietnam in the final, when he scored in the second leg to give his side a 3-2 aggregate lead.

However, if one were to pick a single key attribute to be associated with the Golden Dragons, one would go for defence, FOX Sports said. Park Hang-Seo’s side were the strongest defensively and conceded just four goals throughout the entire tournament. Furthermore, they managed to advance from their group without conceding a goal at all. “Looking at the Golden Dragon’s cup-winning run, one can’t help but reminisce of Sir Alex Ferguson and his memorable words: “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles,” it wrote.

The victories by the Vietnamese boys were also mentioned by the world's leading news agencies. Reuters ran the headline "Vietnam win AFF Suzuki Cup as Anh Duc Nguyen volley downs Malaysia." The news agency described Vietnam as having won the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time in a decade, as Nguyen Anh Duc's volley secured a 1-0 win over Malaysia in the second leg of the final in Hanoi on Saturday for a 3-2 aggregate triumph.

AP also said this victory showed the progress made by Vietnam since Park Hang-seo became head coach. The AFP gave praise to goalkeeper Dang Van Lam with a series of fine saves to preserve the home side's advantage as they won 3-2 on aggregate and claimed the ASEAN regional title for the first time since 2008.

Park Hang-Seo’s side were the strongest defensively and conceded just four goals throughout the entire tournament. (Photo: NDO.Tran Hai)

Meanwhile, the Malaysian media regretted that the home team could not bring home the second title in their history, while also admitted Vietnam were fully deserved to win the trophy. The Star Online wrote: "Malaysia’s dream of winning the AFF Suzuki Cup for the second time was shattered after they were beaten 1-0 by Vietnam at the My Dinh Stadium in the second-leg final. The defeat means Tan Cheng Hoe’s side lost 3-2 on aggregate as Vietnam deservedly won their second AFF Suzuki Cup after 10 years.”

New Straits Times said once again Malaysia had more possession but failed to take advantage of their dominance. However, the prestigious newspaper also confirmed that, despite the failure, Malaysia can stand tall as critics did not expect Tan Cheng Hoe’s side to go far in the tournament.

In Park’s hometown, the Korean media and locals also keep a close watch on the Vietnam team’s progress. In the past few days, the journey by Park and his players has drawn large interest in the Republic of Korea (RoK). Several stations in the RoK bought the rights to broadcast matches featuring the Vietnam team and such matches always attract a very large number of viewers. In particular, SBS sent reporters to Hanoi to broadcast directly from My Dinh in the final match last night.

Coach Park Hang-seo won his first trophy one year after staring his coaching career in Vietnam. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)

After Park's side won the trophy, tens of thousands of spectators at My Dinh celebrated, while the jubilant atmosphere spread across Vietnam, which Chosun described as a reenactment of Korea's fervour during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup.

Hani said that December 15 will be the most beautiful day in the history of Vietnamese football as the Vietnam national team led by coach Park Hang-seo won their second AFF Cup trophy. With this victory, Hani was also impressed as Vietnam set a new record of the longest unbeaten series in world football with 16 consecutive games without a loss. Earlier, the previous unbeaten record belonged to World Cup champions France, but this impressive run ended in a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League in November.

CBS pointed to the impressive success of the Vietnamese football since the arrival of coach Park, starting with the runners-up at the AFC U23 Championships earlier this year, then a place in the top four at Asian Games 2018 for the first time, and most recently the AFF Cup 2018 championship title. The site, however, said that Park and his players are only the winners of the AFF Suzuki Cup, but they promise to continue to write new chapters in the future.