It has been years since a Vietnamese national football (soccer) team rocked the 40,000-seat My Dinh arena, giving football aficionados in Hanoi a chance to rush to the streets and revel in national pride.
The national stadium was filled with shouts and cheers on Thursday night; as were the capital’s streets as a ‘red sea’ of supporters sporting red T-shirts, the color of the national flag, basked in their team’s victory over Myanmar in the AFF Nutifood U-19 Cup 2014 semifinal.
The celebrations began immediately after the referee blew the final whistle, with Vietnam beating Myanmar 4-1 in sweet revenge for their 2-3 defeat two weeks earlier in the final of the Southeast Asian U-22 Football Championship, or Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy, in Brunei.
Vietnam and Myanmar both used under-19 players at the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy.
In the upcoming finale of the U-19 tournament, which is also the Southeast Asian championship, the Vietnamese will take on Japan, who edged past Thailand 2-1 in the other semifinal match.
After the Vietnam-Myanmar clash, fans paraded around the stadium and the city shouting “Vietnam are the champions” and waving the national flag.
At beer cafés and eateries, revelers toasted in celebration of the victory. A sea of revelers near the city’s iconic Hoan Kiem Lake burst into the national anthem as they organized a flag raising ceremony.
Celebrations reached a fever pitch, and many major streets, such as Dinh Tien Hoang, Ba Trieu, and Trang Tien were heavily congested.
Surprised by supporters
Myanmar earned its sole goal 54 minutes into the semifinal, while Vietnam’s Tuan Anh, Xuan Truong, Van Toan, and Van Long each beat the Myanmarese goalie with stunning, world-class goals in the 30th, 39th, 51st, and 66th minutes.
Vietnam’s coach, Guillaume Graechen, said that what surprised him most is not the victory, but the 40,000 fans who filled My Dinh to capacity and never stopped cheering for the entire 90 minutes.
The French coach said he had never seen such an atmosphere, even in France, where young football teams usually play in front of 5,000 to 10,000 speculators.
Graechen praised his players for their strong performance and ability to convert chances into goals.
He was completely satisfied by the team’s goals, although Myanmar’s goal, which resulted from technical mistakes by Vietnamese defenders, did upset him, the coach said.
Myanmar’s coach, Gerd Zeise, said he was impressed by the cheering of the 40,000 fans at the stadium, as well as the team’s ace players, Tuan Anh and Cong Phuong. Tuan Anh scored the opening goal by shooting into the upper corner of the net after taking a pass from Van Long.
Zeise said he was not surprised by the result, adding that he has respect for his players, who had to play under huge pressure from Vietnamese supporters.
The tournament’s final is scheduled for Saturday at My Dinh Stadium in the capital city.