Vietnam’s soccer team just won the AFF Suzuki Cup for 2018. Why did the whole nation stop when the final was televised? Because pretty much the whole nation has been hoping to win this cup for the past ten years – it’s been a long wait!
The countries competing for the cup are mostly South-east Asian – including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, even Timor Leste, and of course Vietnam!
The team has a new coach, and it’s quite a big deal – a South Korean guy called Park Hang Seo, who has only been with the team since October 2017. He was formerly the assistant to uber-famous coach Guus Hiddink, and many moons ago actually played soccer for South Korea. Having such a prestigious soccer coach has added to the hype and there is a feeling in the air that Park Hang Seo’s appointment has helped to bring Vietnam and South Korea closer together in terms of diplomatic relations (A deal has just been clinched to give 5 year multi-entry South Korean visas to residents of Hanoi, Saigon and Da Nang). South Korea’s new president was apparently chuffed to learn that many Vietnamese fans waved both Vietnamese and Korean flags as they celebrated the victory last Saturday night.
But back to the soccer match… the winning goal of the tournament was kicked by Nguyen Anh Duc, who was rewarded with a US$50,000 apartment in Phu Yen Province. Coach Park Hang Seo donated US$100,000 of his prize winnings to poor Vietnamese households and to foster the game of soccer in rural Vietnam.