Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Tens of thousands of fans endured cold weather to greet Việt Nam’s U23 squad on Sunday as they returned home to celebrate winning a silver medal at the Asian Championship, which closed in China on Saturday.
Many waited for more than five hours to see their young idols, who lost 1-2 to Uzbekistan in the last minute of the final match, but displayed their great performances throughout the tournament.
Players arrived in Hà Nội at around 1pm and traveled in an open bus from the Nội Bài International Airport to the city centre. Supporters queued up for 30km along the route, many carrying national flags and banderoles, which made the entire city reddish.
They also screamed the names of the players, as well as chanted in chorus: “Việt Nam vô địch” (Việt Nam, the champions).
“It was a really wonderful tournament for me, as well as for my teammates,” said midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải, sitting atop the bus.
“I believe that it will be difficult to see such a great scene in my career for a second time,” said Hải, who wrapped a flag thrown up by a fan around his neck, while watching people wave on the streets.
“It is unbelievable. I think it will be the first time in history that a team that finished second in a tournament were welcomed like champions,” said former national defender Phạm Như Thuần.
“Many teams in the world receive great welcomes, but none likes this, and it may not happen again in the future,” he said.
Players will meet Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc at the government office before taking part in a Gala to honour the team’s success at Mỹ Đình Stadium. — VNS