Both Are Soccer Crazy Nations but Have Different Achievements
As in Indonesia, Vietnamese people are also football enthusiasts. However, the vibe of football fanaticism in Vietnam is much crazier. The Vietnamese people's love for this sport is arguably beyond common sense.
I Gusti Agung Bagus Angga Putra from Hanoi, Vietnam
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The passion for football in Vietnam seems to never die. All activities are stopped for a moment when the Vietnam national team competes. Soccer is like the heart and soul of the Vietnamese people.
As in Indonesia, Vietnamese people are also football enthusiasts. However, the vibe of football fanaticism in Vietnam is much crazier. The Vietnamese people's love for this sport is arguably beyond common sense. The blood of football seemed to run deep within them.
Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh Province was packed with tens of thousands of spectators on Thursday afternoon (19/5/2022). The audience was mostly local Vietnamese. They were crowded in the entrance of the stadium. A number of spectators held tickets for the semifinal match between the Indonesian and Thailand U23 national l teams as part of the 2021 SEA Games hosted by Vietnam.
The stadium with a capacity of about 30,000 seats was almost fully occupied. Organizers announced that at least 45,000 people watched the match. Inside the stadium, spectators thronged every inch of the stadium stands.
Those who could not enter were forced to watch from the outside. Several residents peeked at the game from the side doors of the stadium.
The large crowd seemed strange because the Vietnam national team didn't play that day. The other semifinal match between Vietnam and Malaysia took place in Phu Tho Province, 178 kilometers from Nam Dinh.
"People here really love football. So, even though our national team doesn't play, they still go to the stadium to watch,” said Lao Dong daily journalist Nguyen Du (36).
The Vietnamese mingled with supporters of the Indonesian and Thai national teams in the stadium, carrying dozens of Vietnam's national flags as well as a photo of the late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh, who is fondly called Uncle Ho.
That day, the great leader of Vietnam turned 132. They also brought musical instruments, such as drums and trumpets, into the stadium.
The hysterical shouts and applause mostly came from the Vietnamese side, even though they were not competing in their country's national team.
The match between Indonesia and Thailand was interesting and lively thanks to the presence of the large number of the Vietnamese spectators. Their number exceeded the number of Indonesian and Thai fans who attended the stadium. The hysterical shouts and applause mostly came from the Vietnamese side, even though they were not competing in their country's national team.
The atmosphere of football can be felt almost everywhere when the Vietnam national team competes. When they played in the group stage against Myanmar at Viet Tri Stadium, Phu Tho Province, on 13 May, 2022, the people’s activities nearly stopped.
The streets were suddenly deserted. Some shops were closed earlier. People in Phu Tho gathered in stalls or open fields that provided large screens to watch the match.
From observations along the street, almost all Vietnamese residents watched the live broadcast of the Vietnam national team match at their homes. At least, every 100 meters, the residents were seen watching the match on their televisions.
National team achievement
The Vietnamese people's craze for football is comparable to Indonesia. However, the achievement of their national team far surpasses that of Indonesia. At the regional level, Vietnam has won the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup at least twice, namely in the 2008 and 2018 editions. Meanwhile, Indonesia has reached finals for six times but has never become a champion.
In the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Vietnam was also the only Southeast Asian country to qualify for the third round. Meanwhile, Indonesia slumped to fifth in Group G in the Asian zone.
When facing China, Vietnam won 3-1 in Hanoi. The "Golden Star" troops also managed to hold Japan to a draw at home.
Despite being battered in Group B, Vietnam was able to provide resistance against Asian giants, such as Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. When facing China, Vietnam won 3-1 in Hanoi. The "Golden Star" troops also managed to hold Japan to a draw at home.
Vietnam coach Park Hang-soe said that the quality of the Vietnam national team was still lagging behind top Asian teams. "It's been 60 years since Vietnam last participated in the third round of World Cup qualifiers, we've lost eight times and won only once. This shows that there is a gap between my team and Asia's top teams," Park said.
Park didn't seem satisfied, although the Vietnamese national team’s achievement to qualify for the third round is far better than those made by other Southeast Asian national teams. The Vietnam national team players have at least represented the spirit of love for football from its citizens.
Like Vietnam, Indonesia also has a good future in the football, with the madness of its citizens in the sports. Football schools both at the capital and in the regions have never lost their fans.
This is a good asset for Indonesia to overcome its backwardness against Vietnam and other Southeast Asian football powers, such as Thailand. Improving the quality of domestic competitions and fostering young people will prove that we are not just a football-crazy nation but are also capable of excelling in football.
(This article was translated by Hendarsyah Tarmizi)