Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Vietnam ends 47-year gap from Asian Cup finals

Vietnam returns to Asian Cup finals action after a 47 years absence. The Republic of Vietnam, a founding member of the Asian Football Confederation, qualified for the first two editions of the tournament (1956 and 1960) but that proud history was abolished when the country was conquered by the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1975 and the two states forcibly merged into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the following year.

Vietnam then entered a long period of isolation from international football competition, only re-emerging in 1991 when the national team participated in the South East Asian Games in Manila. Five years later, the Vietnamese participated in the Asian Cup qualifiers for the first time in 16 years but missed out. For all of their disappointments, their coach, Alfred Riedl of Austria, is still hopeful to make their mark in the competition. Vietnam rounded off their AFC Asian Cup warm-up campaign with a 5-3 victory over Bahrain at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on Saturday.

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