Vietnam beats Iran to take U21 title

TN News

Email Print

Vietnam won the Thanh Nien-sponsored Under-21 International Football Competition in Pleiku Town of Gia Lai Province after beating Iran 2-1 in the final on Tuesday.

The closing ceremony of the fifth edition of the annual contest was held right before the final match.

Nguyen Cong Khe, head of the tournament's organizing committee and Chairman of the Thanh Nien Media Corporation, said: "The U21 football competition sponsored by Thanh Nien newspaper is a place that tests the skills and performances of young local and international footballers.

He said "international friends and spectators" have described the event as "professional and wonderful." The success this time has been achieved thanks to enthusiastic support from a large number of people as well as the government officials of Gia Lai Province and Vietnam Football Federation (VFF), he said.

"I would like to sincerely thank Tran Ba Duong, president of Truong Hai Auto Co. and Doan Nguyen Duc, president of Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group, as well as other sponsors who have made this a successful event," he said.

The match began right after the closing ceremony, when it began to rain more heavily, making it pretty difficult for both teams.

The final match was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. but all the streets leading to the stadium were full of people from 2:30 p.m. onwards; and the Pleiku Stadium, which has more than 10,000 seats, was full by 3:30 p.m.

The stadium organizers did their best but a large number of people couldn't enter the stadium and many continued to stay outside the stadium until the first half had ended to enjoy the exciting atmosphere of the final match.

The strong support from the people of the Central Highland town of Pleiku heightened the spirits of the Vietnamese team and they were able to put one over Iran, one of Asia's leading footballing nations.

Both teams displayed speed and flair from the beginning and the hosts drew rapturous applause when Vietnam took the lead in the 32nd minute when striker Huu Khoi scored from close range after taking a neat pass by midfielder The Hung from the left flank.

The young Vietnamese players stepped up their game after the goal, but it was the Iranians who scored the leveler in the last minute of stoppage time of the first half after a mix-up in Vietnam's penalty area.

Displaying superb skills, the hosts scored the second goal after The Hung from the left flank suddenly looped the ball over Iran's goalkeeper into the net to everyone's surprise. The stadium broke into ecstatic applause again.

The Iranians launched more attacks after the latest goal, but the Vietnamese defenders, especially goalkeeper Nguyen Thanh Diep, stood firm until the final whistle.

Speaking after the match, Vietnam's U21 coach Nguyen Quoc Tuan said, "The Vietnamese U21s were inferior to Iranian players in strength and build, but our players played in the highest spirits.

"The field was not good because of the bad weather but we had appropriate strategies and the players adopted the strategies very well. We are very happy with this win, especially with the wonderful support from spectators at the Pleiku Stadium."

Iranian coach Akbar Mohammadi Argi said, "We were not lucky in the match today because the field was not good, making it hard to our players to show their strengths. Anyway, we should congratulate Vietnamese players. They played well and deserved to be the winners."

The host team was presented the trophy and a cash prize of US$12,000. Vietnamese strikers Ha Minh Tuan and Nguyen Huu Khoi, with two goals at the event, shared the "best scorer" title with five other players.

The Vietnamese U21 team also won the fair-play title.

In the earlier match, fighting for the third place, young players from Qatar's football academy Aspire beat Thailand 2-1.

At the prize-awarding ceremony after the final match, Hoang Tuan Anh, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, congratulated the host team and the coaching staff for their "excellent work" and victory.

He praised the young Vietnamese players for their "resilient spirit and teamwork" that led to victory, meeting the expectations of millions of people.

Anh also lauded the organizers of the U21 contest for organizing a successful event, "creating a significant playground and making real contributions to the growth of Vietnamese football."

"I'd like to laud and thank the organizers of the U21 contest for voting for and calling the fans around the country to vote for Ha Long Bay as the world's new natural wonder," he said.

More Sports News