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Aug 27, 2023 / 12:07

Vietnam first to win back-to-back AFF U23 Championships

Vietnam again triumphed in the final of the AFF U23 Championship after winning the 2022 edition.

Vietnam successfully defended their title in the final of the AFF U23 Championship 2023 on August 26, defeating Indonesia 6-5 in a thrilling penalty shootout.

Vietnamese players and coaches lift the trophy on August 26. Photos: Vietnamnet

Indonesia were considered the underdogs against Vietnam, as they advanced to the knockout stage by finishing as the best second-place team in the tournament. Meanwhile, Vietnam were the tournament's top scorer with a total of nine goals.

Vietnam did not have the strongest squad, as the majority of the players were under 21, inexperienced, and with few outstanding performances in the national league.

However, it was not a one-sided match despite the difference between the two teams. The biggest event of the regional soccer tournament was attractive and dynamic from the first minutes, with both teams continuous tit for tat from both teams.

In a hard-fought battle that lasted more than 120 minutes, both teams had several great chances to score, but the goalkeepers denied them all.

In the 25th minute, midfielder Beckham Putra Nugraha unleashed a 25-meter screamer of a free kick, but Vietnam goalkeeper Quan Van Chuan did well to save his goal.

Six minutes late, Vietnam was awarded a penalty, but striker Nguyen Quoc Viet could not beat Indonesian goalkeeper Ernando Ari Sutaryadi.

During the second half, the Vietnamese players had some dangerous attacking moves, but goalkeeper Ernando stayed focused and thwarted all of them.

In the 76th minute, the Vietnamese goal was shaken when an Indonesian free kick hit the crossbar.

After 90 minutes, the two teams went into extra time. Vietnam goalkeeper Chuan made a great save in the 111th minute to keep his net clean.

After 120 minutes, Vietnam and Indonesia went to a dramatic penalty shootout, and Chuan was the hero.

With the score tied 5-5, Chuan saved Ernando's penalty kick and midfield substitute Thai Ba Dat hit the winning kick.

First team to win two in a row

Head coach Hoang Anh Tuan was lifted into the air to celebrate the victory.

By beating Indonesia, Vietnam became the first young team in Southeast Asia to win two U23 titles in a row.

Vietnam won their first championship on February 26, 2022, when they beat Thailand 1-0 in the final.

Notably, Vietnam secured their 2023 title with the "youngest squad of any team."

It was a close match for both teams, Vietnam head coach Hoang Anh Tuan said at the post-match press conference.

"This is my first title as head coach of a national team. It proves that Vietnam has done a good job in training young generations for the sport," he said. "Through the competitions, they will become stronger and more experienced, as expected."

It was important that the players were mentally strong, even though they missed a penalty kick during the match.

"I have been working with them for 3 years, I know all their strengths and weaknesses. We've practiced penalty kicks a lot, so I think we have good shooters here." "I'm not worried about the young players," Tuan said, noting that "Taking risks is important in soccer, so I'm confident in my players when I put them on the field."

"I think coaches should be confident and fearless to make players mentally strong," the Vietnamese coach emphasized.

Speaking about goalkeeper Quan Van Chuan, he said that it is common to make mistakes, but it is the reactions that matter. He predicted that Chuan will become one of Vietnam's top goalkeepers.

Meanwhile, Indonesia head coach Shin Tae Yong blamed the referees for their defeat, saying their poor performance cost Shin's team the title.

Quan Van Chuan voted best goalkeeper

Following Vietnam's victory over Indonesia in the final of the AFF U-23 Championship 2023 on August 26, goalkeeper Quan Van Chuan was named Best Goalkeeper.

He saved Indonesia's sixth penalty kick in the shootout, which was taken by goalkeeper Ernando, motivating his teammate Thai Ba Dat to clinch the title for Vietnam.

A humbled 22-year-old captain said he was lucky in the shootout.

"Our priority was to get to the final and I'm happy that we won the championship," said the Vietnam U-23 captain after the match. "It was a team effort. We all played a part in the team," he said.