In the end, it was an early exit from the 2020 AFC U23 Championship for Vietnam despite them going into the tournament as one of the favourites. Two draws and one defeat meant that they finished bottom of Group D, a big fall from their runner-up finish in 2018.
Couldn't find the back of the net in the first two matches against United Arab Emirates and Jordan respectively, Park's side finally broke their barren run against DPR Korea but defensive lapses put paid to their hopes of advancing to the knockout stage, a point not lost on the head coach.
"We had three games, drew two and lost one. Two years ago, we were the runners-up, so it’s obvious that the result this year was disappointing. My players tried their best, but they still have much to improve. It’s hard to say anything positive about our performance when we exited early from the tournament and only scored one goal in three games.
"If there is anything positive, it’s the effort some new players put into the game. They can play for the national team in the future. Since the U23 team won’t have any other tournament left this year, we will focus on the national team. We will face Malaysia by the end of March and we will try to win that game," said Park in the post-match press conference.
Having been on the rise for the last three to four years that saw them reaching the latter stages of the 2019 Asian Cup on top of winning the 2018 AFF Championship, this is undeniably the first big setback of Park's time with the Vietnam national team, be it the senior of the Under-23 sides.
However there are still plenty of positives for them as they are currently leading the 2022 World Cup qualification group, ahead of Malaysia who they will face in a big clash at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on 31 March.
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