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AFC describes Vietnam as “penalty kings” at AFC U-23 Championship

The Asian Football Confederation described Vietnam as “penalty kings” in a recent article reviewing the three-week AFC U-23 Championship in Changzhou, China, in which Vietnam became the first Southeast Asian team to enter the continental tournament’s finals.

“Vietnam led the way on penalties conceded by giving away three, two of which were converted, in their six games,” said the article titled “The Stats Wrap,” which was published on the AFC website,

The team from the S-shaped country edged out strong rivals from Iraq and Qatar in dreaded penalty shootouts.

In their six matches, players of coach Park Hang-seo received three penalties. Goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung left deep impression when saving a total of four.

Meanwhile, the 20-year-old midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai was nicknamed “sweet left foot”.

“Nguyen Quang Hai’s incredible tournament continued on Saturday as his inch-perfect free-kick sailed into the top corner to level the scores. That was his fifth goal of the tournament and fourth left-footed effort from outside the penalty area as the midfielder ended the competition boasting more than a third of the 11 goals from distance in his name”, the article said.

In addition to praise for the great progress of Vietnamese football, the AFC also recognised the success of Southeast Asian football when two out of the eight teams from this region entered the knock-out rounds, namely U-23 Vietnam and U-23 Malaysia.

It said, “When Vietnam secured their 1-0 victory over Australia on Matchday Two, they not only claimed their first-ever victory at the U23 tournament, but also Southeast Asia’s.”

“Vietnam may have ultimately lost the final, but results in China point to a positive future.”

The AFC also ran an article quoting coach Park Hang-seo as saying “I’ve only been in Vietnam four months and I still don’t know enough about Vietnam’s football culture.”

The 59-year-old man continued saying that “All of my players did their best and throughout this tournament they proved that they have great ability. Maybe in the future Vietnamese football will have more success at Asian level.”

Vietnamese captain Luong Xuan Truong was quoted by the AFC as praising his team for a well fought campaign and is proud of their achievement despite losing to Uzbekistan in the final on January 27.

In a separate story, the 22-year-old captain told the AFC that “To have reached this far into the tournament, we have proved that we are one of the best teams in Asia, and we can compete against the top teams in Asia.”

The AFC noted that Changzhou Olympic Sports Center was graced with the presence of thousands of Vietnamese supporters, who have travelled up north despite the chilly and snowy conditions to cheer their team.

Truong said, “I feel amazed. We were really happy to see them in the stadium. They have always tried to support us and brought along a significant energy.

“I want the supporters to keep supporting us and in the future, we will try to bring Vietnam further.”