Football: Bringing Joy And Sorrow To Vietnamese Fans
When Vietnam’s national football team entered the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, a biennial multi-sport event involving participants from the 11 countries of Southeast Asia, they got the support of the whole country.
For Vietnamese football fans, the national football team is their joy, pride and hope. And sometimes, their biggest fear.
The Vietnamese team have never achieved the SEA Games gold medal before. Since 1991 when they first joined the games, the best achievement they ever mustered was the silver medal in 2003, 2005 and 2009.
Vietnamese fans have been longing for the day that the team would get the highest honour.
Image source: news.zing.vn
However, the team’s performance at the 29th SEA Games 2017 in Malaysia with three wins, a draw and a loss failed to secure a place for Vietnam at the semifinals. And it was Thailand that beat Vietnam in a pivotal match on August 24.
Huu Thang, the coach of the team, resigned right after the match ended. He told the press prior to the SEA Games 2017 that they were determined to reach the highest podium finish and bring fans quality matches.
They had been drawn in Group B, considered as the "group of death", along with Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Timor Leste, and the Philippines.
The Vietnam football team has always received huge support from Vietnamese fans.
A hundred Vietnamese singers, actors, TV hosts and models recorded a song together to cheer on the team at the region’s biggest sports event.
Những Ngôi Sao Sân Cỏ (Football Stars) delivered a message from Vietnamese fans encouraging the players to play well and bring home the gold medal, local media reported.
“I believe the song will help our players relax and motivate them to win the gold at this year’s SEA Games,” said Wang Tran, who has been DJing for 15 years and won several international prizes. He launched his first world tour through 20 countries in May.
Image source: sanco24h.net
Thousands of Vietnamese fans have flocked to stadiums in Malaysia to watch Vietnam’s group stage matches.
Vietnamese fans also took to social media to encourage the team before the games. A Facebook user wrote: “The Vietnam team are warriors and artists on the field. And the football field is just a playground, so let’s forget about past sorrows and move forward. Play with a warm heart and a cold head. Devote yourself. Winning or losing doesn’t matter. The Vietnam team is always in the heart of Vietnamese fans!”
Another wrote: “I strongly believe that Vietnam will become the champion. I can say that when I see the way that the Vietnamese team players played.”
It’s hard to describe the sorrow and disappointment of Vietnamese fans after the Vietnam-Thailand match. Social media was flooded with fans’ comments and reactions. The loss to Thailand was also the topic of discussion among Vietnamese people in street coffee stalls.
Also on August 24, Vietnam’s female football team beat the Thais in the final to clinch the gold medal.
Over the years the male football team have always stolen the spotlight from the female football team. The female team have been reported to be struggling with financial difficulties due to a lack of funding and sponsorship despite their good performances, unlike the male team. This SEA Games has raised the question whether it is high time for the Vietnamese public to pay more attention to the female football team and give them the recognition they deserve.
Vietnamese people have an undoubted love for football, which is the most popular sport in Vietnam. There are big celebrations when Vietnam wins, or even when they score a goal.
The Vietnamese national team has a decent record against other teams in the region — it generally beats teams from Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia but tends to lose to Thailand, which is regarded the best team in Southeast Asia. However, Vietnam does not do so well in international competitions outside the region.
Other than its national team’s exploits in the Asian Games and Southeast Asian games, Vietnamese football fans are also ardent followers of Vietnam’s premier domestic football competition: the V-League.
Image source: bongdacuocsong.net
But it’s the World Cup that heats up the country the most. At the beginning of the World Cup in 2002 - held for the first time in Asia, in Japan and South Korea – Xinhua reported: "The football atmosphere is becoming hotter in Vietnam as the World Cup recently kicked-off... In beer pubs and coffee shops, at homes, fanatics of varying degrees have been going berserk (over the spills and thrills of the games). Vietnamese people are really crazy football fans. The first thing people talk every day is about football matches during the month the World Cup happens. The interesting matches over the last 13 days has had millions of Vietnamese glued to football matches on television.”
The Vietnamese national team have never qualified for FIFA World Cup. Imagine what the country would look like if they did.
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