In approximately 18 months, coach Park Hang-seo has led Vietnam to win 11 of 13 encounters against regional opponents, losing none.
2017 M-150 friendly tournament
Park’s first challenge in Southeast Asia was at the 2017 M-150 friendly tournament held in December 2017 in Thailand.
n the opening match on December 9, 2017, Vietnam beat Myanmar 4-0, with a brace from Nguyen Quang Hai (L), and a goal each from Nguyen Cong Phuong (R) and Phan Van Long. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Khoa
On December 15, 2017, Vietnam beat Thailand 2-1 to claim third position in the tournament. Striker Nguyen Cong Phuong (pictured) scored both goals in the 7th and 22nd minute before the opponents narrowed the score in 46th. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Khoa
2018 AFF Cup
Coach Park had the opportunity to extend his unbeaten run against regional teams at the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship, which ran from November 8 to December 15, 2018. Vietnam was in Group A with Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. They topped the group stage with three wins and a draw.
On November 8, Vietnam beat Laos 3-0 in the opening match. Park’s side dominated the game and triumphed with goals from Nguyen Cong Phuong, Nguyen Anh Duc (pictured) and Nguyen Quang Hai. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
On November 16, taking full advantage of playing at home, Vietnam got a convincing 2-0 win against Malaysia with a goal scored in each half by Nguyen Anh Duc and Nguyen Cong Phuong (front). Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
On November 20, Vietnam had their first and only goalless match when they traveled to Myanmar. Both sides couldn’t convert chances and had to settle for a point each. Nguyen Van Toan (pictured) missed the chance to celebrate his goal that was ruled offside, a decision questioned by many commentators. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
On November 24, Park’s team finished the group A on top, beating Cambodia 3-0. The goals were scored by Nguyen Tien Linh (pictured), Nguyen Quang Hai and Phan Van Duc. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
On December 2, Park had the chance to lead his team against the Philippines coached by the legendary Sven-Goran Eriksson in the semifinals. Goals from Nguyen Anh Duc (pictured) and Phan Van Duc helped Vietnam win the first leg 2-1. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
n December 6, Vietnam secured their spot in the final by with another 2-1 score in the second leg. Nguyen Quang Hai (C) and Nguyen Cong Phuong were the goal scorers. The victory earned wholesome praise from the opponent’s coach, who said Vietnam were favorites to win the title. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
On December 11, despite taking the lead twice against Malaysia, courtesy of Nguyen Huy Hung and Pham Duc Huy, Vietnam had to settle for a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the final. But they went into the second leg at home with the advantage of two away goals. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
On December 15, Vietnam were crowned the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup champions after Nguyen Anh Duc scored the only goal of the game in the second leg of the final against Malaysia for a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Park Hang-seo had helped his team make history, winning the biggest regional title after 10 years. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
2020 AFC U23 Championship Qualifiers
In the 2020 AFC U23 Championship Qualifiers held in Hanoi from March 22 to 26, Park had another chance to pit his team against Southeast Asian rivals, with Vietnam placed in Group K with Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand.
On March 22, Vietnam posted a facile 6-0 win over Brunei in the first match of the qualification round. The goals were scored by six different players. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
On March 24, in the second match of the qualifiers, Vietnam scraped through with a last minute goal against Indonesia by Trieu Viet Hung (front). Park expressed dissatisfaction with his team’s performance. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Binh
Perhaps smarting from the coach’s dissappoinment, on March 26, Vietnam put on an impressive football display by defeating Thailand with a solid 4-0 margin in the last match of the qualifiers. The victory earned Park’s team the top group spot and a ticket to the AFC U23 Championship next year.
Singapore and Timor Leste are the only Southeast Asian teams that Park hasn’t met yet.
Park’s outstanding run with the Vietnamese team has sparked hopes in millions of fans that the country will finally win gold this November at the 2019 SEA Games, ending a wait of 50 years.