Vietnam's 'rock-star' U23 football team makes global impression
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Thousands of supporters flocked to the streets from Noi Bai Airport to Hanoi's city center to greet the team bus, delaying the Vietnamese PM's reception for the team by five hours.
|Football fans welcome the U23 Vietnam team in Hanoi as they come back from the AFC Cup with silver medals on Sunday. Photo by VnExpress/Tuan Hung|
A home-coming celebration was also held at My Dinh National Stadium, where all 40,000 seats were filled with thousands more waiting outside to see the players.
Their success at the U23 Asian Cup made the players "overnight celebrities in the football-crazy nation", AFP wrote.
"I wanted my children to learn from the wonderful strong will of those young footballers," Tran Thuy An, who had been waiting for hours on a flyover for the team bus to pass by, told the French newswire.
Various Korean outlets, including Korea Times, Sportal Korea and Hani, have also expressed amazement at the way football fans have celebrated their national team's achievement, and at the same time, hailed the team's performance at the tournament as "heroic" and "like a fairy tale".
According to Sportal Korea, the team made an "impressive achievement" at the Asian tournament. "The red flags were being waved everywhere on the streets, and the cheering went on until late," Hani wrote.
The Korea Times also added that Vietnam's success at the Asian Cup had brought Vietnamese football and Korean football "closer".
The team has been cheered on by fans across Southeast Asia, which according to Foxsports Asia, is "the real prize, "a legacy", that will help erase ASEAN's inferiority complex at international tournaments.
More importantly, it is the success that unites the country on so many levels, many observers said. "The soccer games have brought the Vietnamese people together, " wrote Atsushi Tomiyama from Nikkei Asian Review.
"There have not been that many national flags in Hanoi in decades," 77-year-old resident Ha Anh Tue told AFP.
Vietnam still has to catch up with the likes of Japan and South Korea, wrote John Durden on Foxsports Asia, but the gap is not as big as before.