But despite the optimism, the team doesn’t make it past the group stage


The reason why Vietnam’s national football team fares so badly, you will often be told, is because of size. Vietnamese players just aren’t big enough.


While physical size and strength does matter, you don’t need to be big to be a successful footballer. Lionel Messi is only 1m70 and Neymar isn’t much taller, reaching the dizzy heights of 1m75. Pele, that Brazilian superstar who may be the best player to ever grace a football field, was slightly built and a little shorter than Neymar. Then there were the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Gary Lineker and George Best. None of them were particularly tall.


All meaning that when Vietnam’s U20 side played in the World Cup back in May, they broke with perceived local wisdom.


High Hopes


The first time that any Vietnamese team in modern history had qualified for a FIFA event, the squad went into the 24-nation tournament in South Korea with high hopes. The year before, the national under-19 team had reached the semi-finals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup. It was the furthest any Vietnamese team had progressed in this tournament and many of the team members were in the squad for the Under-20 competition.


Yet the fairy tale was not to be.


While the first game saw the Vietnamese team notch up a 0-0 draw with New Zealand, they were less effective against France (lost 4-0) and Honduras (lost 2-0), meaning an early exit.


Still, the U-20 team could hold their heads high. Although not that high. As anyone from Vietnam will tell you, they need to be a bit taller for that.


To read the other articles in this series, click on the following links:


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The Vietnamese film industry has experienced a Renaissance over the past few years. Em Chua 18 is
Thousands flocked to My Dinh Stadium to get a piece of the artist called the world’s biggest DJ
But despite the optimism, the team doesn’t make it past the group stage   The reason why
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Three months, three storms and a death toll of almost 300   Vietnam’s location on the edge
Ariana Grande cancels her concert, disappointed fans   Ariana Grande made it to Vietnam,
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A marathon returns to Ho Chi Minh City for the first time in 25 years   While ...
Hanoi gets a repeat performance of the hugely popular conference on ideas   TED Talks are
Saigon’s legendary party street ditches the vehicles   Many of us thought we would never


Nick Ross

Chief editor and co-founder of Word Vietnam, Nick Ross was born in the humble city of London before moving to the less humble climes of Vietnam. His wanderings have taken him to definitely not enough corners of the globe, but being a constant optimist, he still has hopes.

Website: twitter.com/nickrossvietnam

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