- *Against New Zealand, Vietnam picked up their first point at a FIFA 11-a-side tournament *
- Nearly 2,000 Vietnamese fans made the trip to Korea Republic to cheer on their team
- Their captain has admitted to feeling a mixture of pride and frustration
In football, 0-0 draws do not always get the greatest press. It is, after all, the scoreline that spectators always hope to avoid when they make their way to a match. But for the 2,000-odd Vietnamese supporters in attendance at Cheonan Sports Complex to witness their heroes take on New Zealand at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea 2017, the goalless stalemate was very much worthy of celebration, despite their 3,000-kilometre journey.
Not satisfied with making their debut in an 11-a-side FIFA competition (they had previously competed at the 2016 Futsal World Cup), the Vietnamese players made history by securing their first-ever point in a closely contested 90-minute battle with an All Whites side taking part in the event for the fourth successive time.
“We’ve written a fantastic new chapter in the history of Vietnamese football,” captain Quang Hai Nguyen told FIFA.com. “We’re very proud of ourselves. It’s an incredible result, but also a little disappointing, because we would have loved to have taken all three points. To be completely honest, we’re all feeling a bit frustrated.”
Indeed, if the skipper had managed to score his audacious attempt direct from a corner in the 27th minute, or if Hoang Duc Nguyen had succeeded in converting Duc Chinh Ha’s wonderfully incisive pass five minutes from time, certain parts of the stadium would likely have exploded with joy. And over the piece, a winning goal for Vietnam would not have been undeserved, given the fine performance put in by the team coached by Hoang Anh Tuan, who was warmly applauded at the post-match press conference.
“It’s an historic point; there’s no doubt about that. But at the end of the day, it’s just one point in the Group E table,” said the man in charge, already turning his thoughts to his country’s next match versus France. “One of our aims in coming here was to gain respect. And I think we’ve done that tonight.”
As well as the players, the fans also earned plaudits for their vocal backing. “Personally, I was surprised by the number of Vietnamese supporters in the stadium,” remarked Hoang Anh Tuan. “They never once stopped cheering, and that really spurred us on. They created an absolutely fantastic atmosphere. I hope that they’ll turn up in in similar numbers again for our next match, because we’re going to need them.”