U23s praised for AFF championship victory

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Vietnamese players receive the championship trophy from AFF President Maj Gen Khiev Sameth. Photo aseanfootball.org

HÀ NỘI — President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc and Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính have congratulated the national U23 squad for their first ever AFF U23 Championship title, after a thrilling tournament in Cambodia.

In a letter sent to the team, President Phúc wrote that the players showed Việt Nam’s strong determination throughout the tournament. They competed bravely and courageously in accordance with the spirit of the Gold Star Warriors. They deserved to win the championship trophy.

He asked the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) to provide a bonus worthy of the whole team and to continue to support young footballers so that Việt Nam can assert itself more on the international stage. It is good preparation for qualification to the 2026 World Cup.

At the same time, PM Chính wrote that it was a proud achievement for the team who faced challenges and difficulties due to COVID-19. With spirit and bravery, the ‘Golden Warriors’ overcame all, fighting for national pride and people’s trust. Their journey brought joy and happiness to the whole country.

Defender Trần Quang Thịnh lifting the AFF trophy. Thịnh is the only player who took part in all four matches at the tournament. Photos AFC Asian Cup

PM Chính added that, together with the achievement of the men’s and women’s teams in the last month, Việt Nam has more faith and hope in the development of national football.

He wished players and coaches good health and more success in the future.

He also recognised the contributions of local and overseas organisations, individuals and supporters, who encouraged the team to their remarkable victory.

On Sunday morning, the U23s received VNĐ4.2 billion (US$184,000) from the VFF and Hưng Thịnh Group, who are the Vietnamese national team’s main sponsor, and the Việt Nam Fund for Young Talents.

Apart from the silverware, Việt Nam also set records at the regional tournament.

Captain Dụng Quang Nho and his teammates scored nine goals in four matches, a record. Given that eight players scored, this was also a record.

They also were the only team to win all their matches and kept a clean sheet in the tournament, the only team in the history of the games to do so.

Đặng Tuấn Hưng is the third-choice goalkeeper but came home a hero after keeping a clean sheet in the semis and the final.

Of the 27 players initially selected by coach Đinh Thế Nam, 22 were eventually ruled out due to injuries and COVID-19. Việt Nam were the only team that had to strengthen their squad with additional players from home.

Việt Nam sent four goalkeepers to compete in Phnom Penh, and shot-stopper Trần Liêm Điều even ended up on the field as a striker.

Speaking at the post-match briefing, coach Nam said he was really happy with the championship title. He congratulated and thanked players for giving him and Vietnamese supporters an amazing final, beating Thailand 1-0.

He also appreciated VFF, the Việt Nam Embassy and the Vietnamese people in Cambodia for their support for the team.

Coach Đinh Thế Nam is tossed in the air by players after winning the AFF U23 Championship final. Việt Nam beat Thailand 1-0 on February 26 in Cambodia.

He nominated five players, who usually play for the U21s, to Park Hang-seo’s squad for the 31st SEA Games this May. VNS

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