Vietnam’s ‘rock-star’ U23 football team makes global impression

Vietnam’s U23 football team received a “rock-star” welcome in Hanoi yesterday, despite losing to Uzbekistan in the 2018 Asian Championship Final, according to AFP.  The team had been described as the “underdog” in many newspapers, so its success in the semifinal made the players “overnight celebrities in the football-crazy nation.” “I wanted my children to learn from the wonderful strong will of those young footballers,” Tran Thuy An, who had been waiting for hours on a flyover for the team bus to pass by, told the French newswire. The team has been cheered on by fans across Southeast Asia, which according to Foxsports Asia, is “the real prize,” “a legacy” that will help erase ASEAN’s inferiority complex at international tournaments. Vietnam still has to catch up with the likes of Japan and South Korea, wrote John Durden on Foxsports Asia, but the gap is not as big as before. More importantly, it is the success that unites the country on so many levels, many observers said. “There have not been that many national flags in Hanoi in decades,” 77-year-old resident Ha Anh Tue told AFP. Huge crowds took to the streets to celebrate Vietnam’s win over Qatar, and even when the team lost in the final to Uzbekistan. Many companies allowed their employees to leave early to watch the games, and this shows “respect for the working class”, wrote Atsushi Tomiyama from Nikkei Asian Review. “The soccer games have brought the Vietnamese people together”.  Various Korean outlets including Korea Times, Sportal Korea and Hani have also… [Read full story]

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