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Vietnam’s national football team welcomed home

Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien greets the national football team as they arrived at Noi Bai International Airport on Saturday. Photo: VNA/VNS 
Vietnam’s national football team received a hero’s welcome as they returned home following the Asian Cup at the weekend.

As the team landed at Noi Bai International Airport, hundreds of fans were there to meet them.

The men’s team narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-final after losing 1-0 to Japan last week in the United Arab Emirates.

They were also greeted by representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Vietnam Sports Administration.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien congratulated and thanked the whole team. Later, he gave lucky money to each player.

Head coach Park Hang-seo and captain Que Ngoc Hai led the team through the airport.

Players will spend the Tet holiday with their families and relatives, but coach Park went straight to Hang Day Stadium to watch a friendly match between Vietnam’s U22 team and Ulsan Huyndai Club from the Republic of Korea which finished 0-0.

Speaking to the media, goalkeeper Dang Van Lam said the team felt tired after returning, but all players were emotional after the warm welcome they received from fans.

“Our families are all waiting for us to come home,” he said. “This year, I will spend Tet in Vietnam and it will be a joyful and cosy time. I wish all fans have a jolly and healthy Tet with their families.”

According to coach Park, the U22 team will be his main focus this year as they are the future of Vietnamese football aiming for a place at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Another target is winning the SEA Games 2019, held in Philippines from November 30 to December 10.

The national team will also gather for the qualifying round of World Cup 2022, in September.

The coach believes his team is in their best form so they do not fear other strong rivals like Australia or Uzbekistan.

To prepare for World Cup 2022, the national team will play at the East Asian Football Championship (EAFF), meeting the Republic of Korea.

From June 1 to 9, the team will also join Kirin Cup in Japan, a tournament of only three teams.

The first qualifying round of World Cup Asian region will have three stages, starting in September.

Vietnam will play six matches this year, with three at My Dinh National Stadium. This will be a chance for fans to see the new faces chase qualification to the World Cup.