Saigon relives football fever as U23 players pay a visit

Vietnam’s U23 team meets their fans in Saigon one week after returning home as runner-up at an Asian championship.

Fans approach as players of Vietnam’s U23 national football team walk from their bus to Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street in District 1 on Sunday to pay tribute to the late President Ho Chi Minh. Many of them have failed to get the free tickets to join the fan meeting that takes place several hours later in District 10 so they managed to see their “idols” here.

The ceremony lasts 10 minutes before the players move to Thong Nhat Stadium in District 10 to meet their fans. Vietnam surprised football lovers and experts when it became the first Southeast Asian country to ever make it to the final of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship on January 27.

Fans wave outside Thong Nhat Statdium as the bus of U23 Vietnam approaches. Many of them have waited for hours to get the free tickets for the meeting on Sunday afternoon.

Fans are seen inside the stadium. Though the Vietnamese team returned home as runner-up after losing the final match to Uzbekistan, what they performed during the tournament in China has won the hearts of millions of Vietnamese people.

Some fans at the stadium are Korean as it is Park Hang-seo, the South Korea head coach that has contributed a huge part to help the Vietnamese team go that far in the AFC U23 Cup this year.

Fan wait outside the stadium.

Girls cry as the players finally walk onto the stadium.

This little girl is full of spirit.

Most fans choose the tickets that allow them to stand in the field along with the players instead of on the bench. 25,000 tickets for this event have all found their owners and as the demand is so high, the organizer decided to open the stadium for all fans to come in.

Coach Park Hang-seo walks up to the stage. “We will have to try double,” he says.

Midfielder Quang Hai. He has won the best goal award of the AFC U23 Cup as decided by an online voting by AFC.

Luong Xuan Truong, the captain of the U23 team.

The team’s captain Truong answers fans’ questions at the event.

Fireworks mark the beginning of the singing performances.

Players sing “Niem tin chien thang” (We are the champions) with singer My Tam.

Source: Staff Reporters

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