Vietnamese players celebrate their first SEA Games title in the Philippines on December 10. Photo bacgiangtv.vn
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese football enjoyed a hugely successful 2019 and are now the undisputed king of ASEAN football, but leaders of the national football federation think there's even more to come in 2020.
After 60 years of waiting, the U22 team won the Southeast Asian Games men's football in early December. The young 'Golden Stars' went through the tournament undefeated and thrashed Indonesia 3-0 in the final.
Earlier, the female team beat arch rivals Thailand 1-0 to take the trophy, defending their title and securing a record sixth championship at the regional sporting festival. In August, they also won AFF Cup against Thailand.
In the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Việt Nam are the only team in Group G undefeated and top the table with 11 points after five matches.
In the Asian Cup in January, Việt Nam shocked the continent by advancing to the quarter-final in their comeback to this tournament after 12 years, their best ever result.
At November's ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Awards, Park Hang Seo was voted best coach, midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải was best player and Việt Nam were the national team of the year.
"We are all happy and proud with what the national teams have done in this year," said Trần Quốc Tuấn, vice president of the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF).
"We prepared well for the year and earned remarkable achievements which are strong pushes for Vietnamese and would massively boost interest in the game," he said.
Tuấn, head of the Asian Football Confederation Competition Committee, said the development of national football had been mapped out and brought results from years before. It had resulted from a long and well prepared course.
Winston Lee, AFF General Secretary, also appreciated Việt Nam's success when he took part in the VFF's annual meeting on Sunday in Hà Nội.
“I believe that you are very proud of the Vietnamese achievements during this time in both men’s and women’s football," Lee was quoted as saying on vff.org.vn.
"In fact, as we know, the success of Việt Nam was shown not only in these two years but also from many years ago. In my opinion, it was since AFF Cup 2008. Your outstanding success had made a strong impression on us.
“Việt Nam will not stop at this success, you need a new goal and long-time plan. You will need to work hard for those goals,” he said.
In 2020, Việt Nam will take part in several tournaments.
The national team will hope to defend their AFF Cup title, advance to the third qualification of the 2022 World Cup and win a berth in the finals of the 2023 Asian Cup. The U19's duty is to qualify for the U20 World Cup in 2021; the women's national team must defend their title at the AFF Cup; and the futsal squad have to vie for a slot at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021.
But all eyes are on their first tournament of the year which will be the AFC U23 Championship in Thailand next month.
Park and his players will leave for the event on January 1 and will have a friendly match against Bahrain before starting their journey on January 10 versus the UAE.
The outstanding achievement of the team when finishing in second place was a milestone for Vietnamese football.
VFF leaders said it was hard to achieve success and would be much harder to retain, but Việt Nam was in a good position.
"Since our first discussions for teams who will compete in 2020 we have thought of the U23s' opportunities to win an Olympic berth," said VFF General Secretary Lê Hoài Anh.
"They have been given the best conditions for practising and a training camp in South Korea during their preparation for the tournament. I believe our team will pass the group stage. In the quarters, we might face a powerful team but good preparation and sometimes a little luck will help, then a slot in the semis is possible," said Anh. "At the same time if Japan, hosts of the 2020 Olympics, are also in the last-four, then we will have won an Olympic berth."
"Of course, it is our dream and if we can achieve it or not also depends on other elements. Your know that we have deeply supported football, so do other countries such as Indonesia, who have invested strongly in their football recently." VNS
The national women's team players tribute their supporters after the win the SEA Games final match. Photo www.baogiaothong.vn