It has been reported that Vietnamese women's footballers have only a 2% chance of reaching the knockout stages or the quarter-finals at the Women's World Cup 2023.
Vietnam's debut at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 makes them the third Southeast Asian national team to appear at the tournament after Thailand and the Philippines.
|Vietnam's women's national football team makes its debut at the 2023 World Cup in New Zealand and Australia on July 22. Photo: Business & Urban Newspaper|
Even in their wildest dreams, Vietnamese soccer fans did not think their team could beat the US, the Netherlands and Portugal in the group stage to advance to the next round.
Against the USA last Saturday, the Vietnamese girls did not score a goal or take a corner kick, had the ball only 34% of the time, and lost 3-0.
These facts show that there is still a huge gap in ability between Vietnam and other teams.
But the final score is of no concern to Vietnamese fans, as they all acknowledge the hardships and sacrifices the girls have made.
For the first time at a World Cup, the Vietnamese national anthem, Tien Quan Ca (Song of the Marching Army), was played.
All the players, coaches and team members sang the song with pride. They put their hands over their hearts where the yellow star is.
It was probably one of the most beautiful moments for all Vietnamese people and especially for the players.
Such pride fired up the players and made them put maximum effort into every sprint, tackle, block and pass.
Clearly, the mental boost helped the Vietnamese counter the immense power of the No.1 nation in the world of women's soccer.
Despite their dominance throughout the match, the Americans only scored three goals.
The resilience of the Vietnamese left even some of the most experienced US players worried at times during the match.
Alex Morgan, one of the most famous US women's soccer players, missed a penalty in the 44th minute.
Head coach "Father" Mai Duc Chung and his team were pleased with the match, despite the final score.
"I'm very happy with the team's spirit today," he said at the post-match press conference. "Before the match, we promised that we might be outclassed in terms of skill, but we would definitely not be outclassed in terms of determination and spirit."
"I am so proud of the girls," he said.
The Vietnamese players' performance also impressed the world.
|Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh (yellow jersey) saves Alex Morgan's (white jersey, number 13) penalty kick during the match between Vietnam and the USA. Photo: Economic & Urban Newspaper|
Thai soccer fans took to Pantip, the largest local social network, to praise the performance of the Vietnamese players. They also admired the strength, stamina and determination of each Vietnamese player who covered every inch of the pitch.
AsianCup2023, the Twitter page of the Asian Cup 2023 hosted by the Asian Football Confederation, said, "The Golden Star Women Warriors produce a fighting display in Auckland."
"Vietnam produced a steely performance as defending champions the United States were made to work hard for a 3-0 win," the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) wrote on its website.
"Tournament debutants Vietnam frustrated the four-time champions with their disciplined and resolute defending and will look forward to their remaining matches with confidence," it added.
"Fair play to Vietnam coach Mai Duc Chung. This was a more positive and competitive performance than had been expected," said Michael Cox, a British journalist and author who provides football analysis for The Athletic in the UK.
Goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh was clearly the best Vietnamese player on the pitch. Standing at a height of 1.65 meters, Thanh looked comfortable dealing with crosses from the flanks.
Thanh also saved Alex Morgan's penalty kick. The American had the rebound but missed.
On the tournament's website, FIFA posted a short video of American fans coming from nowhere to know the Vietnamese goalkeeper.
“She is having a phenomenal match”, “The goalkeeper has been awesome”, “She’s done an incredible job”, “To stop something from Alex Morgan is a big deal,” the supporters said.
“I thought she played great, had a number of good saves, and just played with a lot of confidence,” Alyssa Naeher, an American player, said about Thanh.
To talk about Thanh’s performance, the FIFA Women’s World Cup twitted: “Tran Thi Kim Thanh, take a bow!! The Vietnamese keeper has had a sensational first half and now saves an Alex Morgan penalty on the stroke of half-time!”
It may be challenging, even impossible, for Vietnam to progress at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023. But they will win the hearts of fans as long as they remain resilient, determined and committed.