Park Hang-seo works his magic again

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Park Hang-seo works his magic again


Vietnamese football players and head coach Park Hang-seo, in the air, celebrate after winning the AFF Suzuki Cup at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on Saturday. [YONHAP]

Vietnamese football team head coach Park Hang-seo led his squad to another historic achievement on Saturday - winning the Suzuki Cup for the first time in 10 years.

After finishing with a 2-2 draw against Malaysia on Tuesday, Vietnam won 1-0 at home during the second leg of the final on Saturday at My Dinh National Stadium, celebrating their victory in front of 40,000 fans. Throughout the tournament, Vietnam didn’t lose a single match.

“I’m really happy to win tonight,” Park said during a press conference after the match. “We did our best for two months to ensure that we get this win. The love and support from the Vietnamese people have been immense.”

Vietnam’s success wasn’t only exciting for Vietnamese fans - the final match was broadcast live in Korea. By winning the tournament, the team received $300,000 in prize money.

Although the prize money rewarded to the team was $300,000, Park and the players are expected to receive millions in bonuses. When Vietnam advanced to the semifinals, the Vietnamese Football Federation rewarded a $103,000 bonus to the team and added $43,000 more when they advanced to the finals.

According to VnExpress, an online Vietnamese newspaper, Thaco Group rewarded 2 billion Vietnamese dong ($86,146) to the players, with $100,000 going to Park.

Park once again stole the hearts of the fans with his humble attitude. He asked Thaco Group to donate his bonus to Vietnamese football.

Other Vietnamese companies have also offered bonuses for the team.

Park is expected to receive a lot more than his annual income in bonuses. Currently, Park is earning $22,000 a month on a contract that runs through 2020. If he decides to continue his coaching career with Vietnam, his contract is expected to skyrocket.

In addition to the bonuses, by winning the Suzuki Cup, Vietnam will now compete in a friendly match against Korea in March 2019. The East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) and the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) agreed to host the inaugural AFF-EAFF Champions Trophy, scheduled to be played on March 26, 2019.

“I want to dedicate this trophy to all the Vietnamese people,” Park said. “I am honored to receive this much support and love from the fans.”

In addition to his appreciation of the Vietnamese football fans, Park didn’t forget to mention Korea, asking the fans to love Korea as much as they love him.

After briefly coaching the Korean U-23 team and K League teams, Park was appointed head coach of the Vietnam national football team in September 2017. Just three months later, Park led Vietnam to a historic run at the 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship in China, where the team finished runner-up.

The team played fiercely against Australia in the preliminary round before beating Iraq in the quarterfinal and Qatar in the semifinal. But as they surged into the finals, the team hit a snow storm, literally. Many of the team’s members had never seen snow before, and the weather conditions affected their play. Still, they pushed through a 1-1 tie until the final minutes of overtime, when Uzbekistan scored the winning goal.

The historic game garnered 140,000 online views, with online commenters calling Vietnam’s advancement proof of “Park Hang-seo’s magic.”

More recently, Park led Vietnam’s U-23 team to another miraculous run at the 2018 Asian Games. For the first time in history, the team advanced to the semifinals. Vietnam ultimately lost to Korea 3-1.

Now, Park has set his sights on performing another miracle at the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup starting in January. Vietnam has qualified for the Asian Cup for the first time in 12 years and has been assigned to Group D along with Iran, Iraq and Yemen.

“At the Asian Cup, we are probably less competitive,” Park said after the Suzuki Cup victory. “I heard that the new president of the Vietnam Football Federation considers the Asian Cup an important tournament. We may not be as competitive, but our team’s average age is at 23.5 years. By competing against Iran and Iraq, we’ll gain experience. We’ll once again prepare for the tournament as a challenger.”

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