Connect with us


Việt Nam face tough COVID-19 challenge ahead of Asian Cup




Vietnamese players seen during their Spanish training course. Their Asian Cup tournament is affected after some players tested positive for COVID-19. Photo courtesy of VFF

HÀ NỘI — A COVID-19 outbreak among the Vietnamese women’s’ team is threatening their participation in the AFC Asian Women’s Cup.

On January 16, one more player tested positive and has been isolated in a hotel in Pune, India, host country of the tournament.

The player, whose name has not been revealed, is the latest in the squad to test positive after 13 players and two doctors

Five healthy players are continuing training under coach Mai Đức Chung and wait for other teammates who are coming from Spain where they practised and competed over the last three weeks.

Coach Mai Đức Chung (left),VFF official Trương Hải Tùng (second, right) and VIetnamese players receive welcome flowers from Consul General of Việt Nam in Mumbai Hoàng Tùng (second, left ) when they arrived in India on Sunday. Photo courtesy of VFF

According to the tournament’s regulations, a team must have at least 18 players and maximum 23 players registered for a match. Otherwise, they would be kicked out of the event.

The Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) is working hard to make sure Việt Nam’s participation.

VFF said among 23 members still in Spain, some have negative results and are expected to arrive in India on January 19. Meanwhile the F0 players are in stable conditions.

The national football governing body are also working on document procedures to send more players from Việt Nam to India. However, due to the lack of flights, these players are able to fly on January 20 and will still miss the first match against South Korea on January 21.

VFF said they would do best to find earlier flights for them.

Coach Chung hopes he would have at least 11 players for the first match and would have further plans based on what develops.

“We discussed about difficulties and definitely that (the shortage of player) will strongly affect our results at the Asian Cup,” said VFF General Secretary Lê Hoài Anh.

“But we all do everything to solve the problem and hope that we will have enough players prior to first match against South Korea,” he said, adding that AFC promised to have special policy to support Việt Nam in this tough situation.

Players left in Spain talk with their teammates in India. Photo screen shot by VFF

In preparation for the Asian Cup which is also a 2023 World Cup qualifier, Vietnamese players went to practise and compete in Spain from December 26-January 15.

The first player was positive with the COVID-19 was on January 11, several days after a match against Cordoba FC.

The Asian Cup is scheduled on January 20 to February 6. Việt Nam are in Group C with South Korea, Japan and Myanmar. Matches are on January 21, 24 and 27, respectively. 

Despite powerful rivals, the Southeast Asian champion Việt Nam set a target a place at the 2023 World Cup for the first time. 

To make that goal, they must be in top five at the Cup to qualify directly for the World Cup via the knockout stages or being one of two teams qualify from the inter-confederation play-offs.

The Vietnamese team is currently placed 32nd on the FIFA ranking and sixth in the Asian table.




Na overcomes all challenges to win heptathlon gold




Nguyễn Linh Na holds the flag high after claiming gold in the SEA Games. — VNA/ Photo Quốc Khánh

Thanh Nga

After 17 years of waiting, Nguyễn Linh Na has helped Vietnamese athletics claim their first SEA Games gold medal in the heptathlon.

Attending the region’s biggest sports event for the first time, Na caused an upset when she won the gold medal in the women’s heptathlon with 5,415 points, breaking Vietnamese Nguyễn Thị Thu Cúc’s 17-year national record of 5,350 points in the process. 

This was also the first time since 2005 that Vietnamese athletics won gold in this category in the regional Games. Na’s achievement is even more special as just two years ago, she intended to retire because of a necrosis injury.

“I think playing one sport is boring, so playing seven sports will be more interesting. It is the first time I have attended the SEA Games and to win the gold medal at home made me extremely happy,” Na said.

Na is 25 years old. She is a Mường ethnic from Hòa Bình Province and is an athlete in the Military team. A few months ago, her achievement at the national championship was 5,096 points and she herself was surprised that she was able to improve her achievement by more than 300 points to win the SEA Games gold medal at home.

A challenging medal

The heptathlon is the toughest event to win a medal in the track and field. At this year’s Games, only six athletes from Việt Nam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand participated. SEA Games 30 bronze medalist Sunisa Khotseemueang of Thailand dropped out after the first three sports.

Na and Hoàng Phương Giang represented Việt Nam. They had to compete in seven sports in just two days including 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m run, long jump, javelin throw, and 800m run.

“When I competed in the first sports, I didn’t think I could win. Really, right now I don’t still believe I took the gold medal. The score of 5,415 is also my best achievement so far,” Na said.

“At first, I was a bit nervous because I attended the SEA Games for the first time. But the home turf advantage and support of the audience gave me a great motivation to achieve this result. I would like to thank everyone,” Na added.

Na’s victory was even more meaningful as she overcame the SEA Games 30 gold medalist Sarah Dequinan of the Philippines and SEA Games 30 silver medalist Norliyana Kamaruddin of Malaysia.

The coach who inspired Na is a familiar face of military and Vietnamese sports, Lieutenant Colonel Vũ Văn Huyện. Huyện is famous in the region, having won gold in the men’s decathlon in four consecutive SEA Games.

Huyện himself was also surprised by Na’s achievement: “I thought Na would win about 5,200 points as in the national championship in 2021, her score was only 5,096 points. However, she performed well in all events and won a spectacular gold medal. The desire to dedicate herself to the country’s sports at her first Games has given Na a great source of strength”.

“I was more nervous and trembling when I watched Na compete than when I competed in the past. However, she was good, really good. I saw that she has supernatural power. She performed smoothly in any categories, without errors. She suffered an injury to her thigh but she never gave up. Her fitness was only about 70 per cent but her efforts were great,” Huyện added.

According to Na, she met her injury after completing the 2020 tournament and had to have surgery.

“In 2020, I had a period when I wanted to quit training because this sport requires a lot of physical strength. I was very discouraged and wanted to give up, but my will did not allow it. I wanted to play at the SEA Games held at home, compete for the first time and bring glory to the country,” Na said.


Nguyễn Linh Na celebrates her win with her mother. — Photo

Witnessing her daughter win a gold medal at the Mỹ Đình National Stadium, Nguyễn Thị Thủy, Na’s mother, said: “That’s what I expected. Before, I just thought it was a dream, but the Games 31 has turned the dream come true. When I hold my daughter in my arms, I could only say thank you.”

Thủy said Na didn’t tell her about her difficult times in training, only promising to try her best to win.

From an unknown athlete in Vietnamese athletics, Na has gradually asserted herself, overcoming injuries and difficulties during training and competition to reach the pinnacle of regional success.

This is the “sweet fruit” for the Mường girl after more than ten years of training in this fierce sport.



Continue Reading


Wimbledon to remove ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ from honours boards: report



Wimbledon will drop the titles “Miss” and “Mrs” before the names of female winners on its honour roll to match the men’s boards in an attempt to modernise the tournament, The Times newspaper reported.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club has traditionally used the titles just for women – Ash Barty, last year’s champion, was refereed to as “Miss A. Barty” whereas men’s winner Novak Djokovic went on the board as “N. Djokovic”.

In 2019, organisers did away with the use of honorifics when announcing scores in women’s matches but the events continue to be referred to as “gentlemen’s singles” and “ladies’ singles”.

The change will also put an end to married women being identified by both the initials and surnames of their husbands.

The grasscourt major, which has been stripped of ranking points by the ATP and WTA over its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players due to Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, gets underway on June 27.


Continue Reading


This needs nipping in the bud asap




City fans broke the crossbar during a pitch invasion last Sunday. — AFP Photo.


Paul Kennedy

A study carried out a few years ago by researchers at Ohio State University and the University of Alabama in the US came to the conclusion that when a particular sporting team wins, fans experienced a high that lasted at least two days.

It suggested that supporters will feel a huge boost to their own personal self-esteem following a particular victory for at least 48 hours.

I’m sorry to rain on the parade of those who carried out the study, but you are kind of stating the obvious really.

My team wins, ergo I feel good for a bit. It’s not really rocket science is it?

Over the past few weeks, football fans have had an awful lot to feel good about. But sadly some have expressed their joy in a concerning way.

After Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United to ensure a place in the EFL Championship play-off final, Forest fans rushed the pitch en masse.

During the melee that followed, United’s Billy Sharp was head-butted by one of the hundreds of pitch-invaders.

The following week, after Everton beat Crystal Palace to ensure Premier League survival, thousands of jubilant Evertonians also invaded the pitch.

This time it was Palace manager Patrick Vieira who reacted, kicking out at an Everton supporter who was clearly goading him.

I can’t defend Patrick for his reaction, but there is part of me which understands why he did it.

Then again, after Manchester City won the Premier League title on the last day of the campaign, another invasion, with Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen attacked by a City supporter as he made his way off the pitch.

In the case of Billy Sharp, justice has been swift. A man was arrested, charged and jailed for 24 weeks for the assault.

Two City fans have also been charged by police following the incident at the Etihad Stadium.

There’s no better feeling that winning, but to celebrate in the manner we’ve seen this week is nothing short of appalling.

I don’t know how it can be stopped either. When tens of thousands of supporters feel the urge to invade the pitch, there’s little the police and stewards can do about it.

Nobody wants go back to the dark days of the 1980s and see fencing erected at stadiums but I honestly can’t offer a better solution.

You can’t change the behaviour of the average football fans in England. Their support is tribal, and all common sense goes out the window when an important victory is secured.

Maybe UK football fans should take a look east to understand how passion and euphoria can be expressed in an unbridled, yet safe manner.

Việt Nam’s U23 men’s and women’s football teams both won gold at the SEA Games last week. And sure, it may not be the first team, and with the greatest respect to the tournament, there are plenty bigger to compete for.

But after the final whistle, the country came alive as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate the victories.

And while it may have been chaotic for a good few hours, it was perfectly safe, trouble free and great fun to be part of.

Maybe for their next assignment, academics at Ohio State University and the University of Alabama should study Vietnamese football fans. Here the euphoria and self-esteem following an important victory lasts a hell of a lot longer than just a few days.


Continue Reading