Elated Park hails Vietnam unity
Dubai: An overjoyed Park Hang-seo has attributed the unity in his team as the reason for Vietnam earning a spot in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 quarter-finals.
The Southeast Asian side advanced in dramatic fashion, overcoming Jordan 4-2 on penalties after their Round of 16 tie ended 1-1 after extra-time on Sunday.
Fatigue had been a major concern for Park but the head coach from Korea Republic was proud that his players did not let that derail them from making the quarter-finals of the Continental showpiece.
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“Honestly, we only just advanced into the Round of 16, and we didn't have enough time to rest, so I really appreciate my players for giving their best,” said Park, who struggled to control his elation.
Vietnam were the last team to qualify for the Round of 16, edging Lebanon on the fairplay rule after both teams ended level on points and goal difference in the group stage.
“Our players know very well that we are one team, and I always remind them that we are one team fighting together.”
Baha Abdelrahman opened the scoring for Jordan in the first half with a brilliant free-kick, but Vietnam bounced back in the second 45 to level the tie through Nguyen Cong Phuong’s 51st minute strike, which pushed the match into extra time.
With the additional 30 minutes failing to break the deadlock, the tie went to the penalty shoot-out with the Golden Dragons prevailing when Baha Seif's effort struck the crossbar and Ahmed Saleh’s spot-kick was saved by goalkeeper Dang Van Lam.
“I didn’t expect Jordan to play so cautiously in the first half, which was good for us because we could deal with them very well. Every tactic was perfectly executed by the players, so I am really proud of them. Today, the players completed their mission very well.
“The good result is not about luck, I think our players did really well, and it’s because of their effort.”
Jordan turned heads in the group stage with wins over defending champions Australia and Syria and despite their adventure ending in the Round of 16, head coach Vital Borkelmans was proud of his squad.
“It’s always difficult when you lose, but these guys are amazing,” said Borkelmans.
“Nobody believed in these guys before we came here. We made a group, believing in each other.
“They worked really hard for what they have done on the pitch. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”
The 55-year-old Belgian coach admitted that his side lost confidence after conceding the equaliser.
“I think when someone wins, that means they went for it and they are the winners. You had two different teams in the two halves. The first was ours and the second half was them,” said Borkelmans.
“My team were a little bit nervous but we have shown that we can play, we have quality,” said Borkelmans, as Jordan now turn their attention to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
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