South Koreans living in Vietnam are rooting for coach Park Hang-seo to win the AFF Cup title as his farewell to Vietnam’s national football team.
“The AFF Cup is his last tournament with Vietnam and I think there couldn’t be a better way to say goodbye than winning the title,” Kim Han-wool, a South Korean salesman in Hanoi, told VnExpress International.
The 2022 AFF Cup will be Park’s last competition as the head coach of Vietnam’s national team. In October, Park announced that after careful consideration he had decided that he won’t continue coaching Vietnam after his contract expires on January 30, 2023.
Kang Ji-won, a South Korean assistant in Hanoi, said he expects Park to give his best in this AFF Cup.
“I don’t watch football that often, but when there’s a game of the Vietnam team I always turn the TV on because the national team head coach is a South Korean and because people here are so passionate about football,” Kang said. “Park did a great job coaching Vietnam. I know Park will put his best effort into winning this tournament like he always does.”
Park became the head coach of Vietnam’s national team in 2017. Since then, he has achieved immense success, winning second place at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship, the 2018 AFF Cup title, a place in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Asian Cup, two SEA Games gold medals in 2019 and 2021. He also helped the team advance to the final qualifiers group of the World Cup for the first time in history.
Coach Park in a training session of the national football team. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong
“It’s an undisputed fact that Park is the most successful coach in the history of Vietnamese football,” said Bong Seo-jun, a South Korean marketer who has been working in Vietnam for six years. “His legacy is undeniable. He turned a struggling and unmotivated Vietnam team into a highly determined and tough-to-beat team. The Vietnam national team are still really strong at the moment. I think they can still go all the way to the [AFF Cup] title and I think the players also want to win this trophy as a parting gift to Park.”
After finishing his contract with Vietnam, Park will take some time off before deciding his next move. It’s said that he’s considering opening a youth football center in Vietnam but also does not rule out the possibility of coaching a team in South Korea or elsewhere in Southeast Asia. There are also rumors that he is one of the contenders for the head coach position of South Korea after Paulo Bento left the team following the 1-4 defeat against Brazil in the 2022 World Cup’s round of 16.
Park previously had an international football stint with South Korea. In the 2002 World Cup, he was the assistant of Guus Hiddink on the national team and became the head coach of the U23 team after that.
“The head coach spot on the South Korean national football team is vacant after the World Cup and I think Park would be a perfect fit,” said Shin Seul-ki, an assistant in Hanoi. “The timing is also impeccable as he will end his contract with Vietnam after January. Park did an amazing job with Vietnam, imagine what he can do with South Korea’s squad. I hope he will take the job if he gets an offer. But he has to do well in this tournament first.”
Coach Park celebrates the 2018 AFF Cup title with Vietnam players. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
The 2022 AFF Cup, the football championship of Southeast Asia, will take place from December 20, 2022 to January 16, 2023. There’s one venue for each participating nation in the tournament, with each team playing two group matches in their home stadium. Ten nations are put into two groups and the top two of each group will advance to the semifinals. Park said earlier this year that he wants to “take the trophy back from Thailand,” who became last year’s champions after defeating Vietnam in the semifinals and Indonesia in the final.
Kang Hwan, a manager of a South Korean chicken and beer eatery in Hanoi, said the restaurant will screen the AFF Cup games of Vietnam during the tournament.
“Fried chicken, beer and football are the best combinations,” Kang said. “We have welcomed many customers during the World Cup and I hope the same thing will happen in the AFF Cup. I wish coach Park Hang-seo and the Vietnam national team the best of luck in this competition. May the trophy come back to Vietnam.”
Vietnam will begin the tournament on December 21 with an away game against Laos in group B. They will then play two matches at home against Malaysia and Myanmar and another away game with Singapore.
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