Back in the afternoon of February 6/2022, an outstanding victory against Taiwan (China) in the play-off match helped the Vietnam women’s football team make history: Vietnam are joining the Women’s World Cup for the first time! Behind this historic achievement, there is a story of courageous girls and their relentless efforts.
Table of Contents
The Beginning of a Story
Mr. Tran Thanh Ngu is “the father” of Vietnamese women’s football. In 1984, he had the idea of developing sports for women. While studying Pharmacy in France, Mr.Ngu saw female athletes excelling in male sports and receiving love from fans.
After years of preparation for training programs, in 1990s, Mr. Tran Thanh Ngu founded the District 1 women’s football team. This marked the very first step in women’s football in Vietnam. The first international tournament took place at the 19th SEA Games in 1997. With the Head Coach Tran Thanh Ngu, the Vietnamese women’s national team excellently won a Silver medal. It was the first-ever medal, and the beginning of all historic stories.
SEA Games 1997 – Source: Vietnamplus
Mr. Tran Thanh Ngu said that the initial period of developing women’s football was extremely challenging. Finding female players was a difficult task. At that time, the image of a graceful woman wearing a jersey and shorts, running on the field, was not widely accepted. And even the players themselves were hesitant. The lack of equipment, fields, and especially training programs were also not easy to overcome.
30 years, 23 girls, and 1 journey
However, with relentless effort, passion, and continuous practice, Vietnam women’s football has become the most accomplished team in Southeast Asia. The 30-year development of women’s football in Vietnam is also 30 years of silent sacrifices of countless generations of players, coaches, and leaders.
Before 23 girls who made history in 2022, many people dedicated themselves to the sports development of the nation. Goalkeeper Nguyen Thi Kim Hong, the legendary “guardian” of Vietnam women’s football, has overcome tough days to make a living and pursue her greatest passion in life. During the day, she trained and practiced. In the evenings, Kim Hong had to sell bread. Kim Hong, has had knee ligament injuries and relied on the support of businesses, individuals, and male and female colleagues to undergo surgery and revive her career.
Nguyen Thi Kim Hong and her teammates
After 30 years, all have been on the same journey: the journey to make Vietnam proud. It is the dream and desire that every girl in the team holds dear in their hearts. The success of Vietnam women’s football has been exchanged for sweat and tears. The Women’s World Cup 2023 is closer than ever. As the Vietnamese female players said, it is a moment of history, of life, and they will play with all the strength and support of the past 30 years.
The Vietnamese women’s national football team had two chances to make it to the World Cup, but they missed out both times. In 2015, they lost to Thailand in a playoff match held in their own country during the Asian qualifiers. In the race for the 2019 World Cup, they were considered strong contenders along with Japan, South Korea, China, and Australia. However, because of tournament rules and unlucky draws, Vietnam didn’t get the chance to compete in the playoffs, missing out for the second time.
In the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the team showed great determination to secure a spot in the 2023 World Cup. They easily advanced through the qualifiers and prepared diligently with training camps in Spain. Unfortunately, they faced challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the difficulties, the Vietnamese women’s team put on an impressive performance and made it to the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup 2022. They lost to the Chinese women’s team and had to compete in a playoff to qualify for the 2023 World Cup. In the rematch against Thailand, the Vietnamese women’s team easily defeated their opponents. In the second play-off match on February 6th, the team made history with a convincing victory over the Taiwanese women’s team. They finally did it. It was a historical moment!
Source: Thanh Nien
The impressive performance of the Vietnamese women’s team has gained admiration from all over the world. The team has been amazing on the field. Emotional celebrations of Coach Mai Duc Chung and his players have been all over the news, both in Vietnam and around the world. Fans are getting more into women’s football and they really believe that these brave players will keep surprising everyone at the World Cup 2023.
“The Diamond Girls”
Vietnamese people call these 23 girls with an endearing name: “The “Diamond Girls.” They are precious diamonds, always shining brightly on the football field. Let’s listen to their stories, their thoughts and their dreams.
“There were times when I thought about retiring and finding a different job outside of football. I was just 19 years old when I suffered a ligament tear and had weakened legs. Many other players had to give up their passion due to similar injuries.” shared Tran Thi Duyen, a national team player.
Born into a farming family, Tran Thi Duyen had never played football before being selected for the Phong Phu Ha Nam Club. She had to fight hard to convince her parents to allow her to pursue her dream. It wasn’t easy, but she never gave up.
Tran Thi Duyen
Looking back at those difficult times, Duyen said: “It seemed like a test of perseverance and love for football within me.” Throughout her career, she has faced serious injuries that seemed to threaten her career. But with determination and burning passion, Duyen overcame all obstacles and became an indispensable part of Vietnam’s current team.
Aside from football, Duyen also had concerns about her family. Like many other female players, she often worried about not being able to spend enough time taking care of her family. Within just 10 years of pursuing a career in football, there were at least two family incidents for her.
The first one happened during the second round of the U19 Asian Qualifiers when her father had a work accident. She could only stay with her parents for one night before her father underwent surgery. The second incident was when her mother had to undergo spinal surgery. Two times her mother received treatment in Hanoi, Duyen couldn’t visit her due to her busy schedule.
However, despite everything, she still feels happy with her choice. She succeeded in pursuing her passion and received precious love from her family and colleagues. “I play football because of passion more than for financial reasons. So, I just play for the passion. Money is important, but passion is even more important to me.”
“The Diamond Polisher”
A beautiful diamond needs to be polished by a skilled polisher. Mr. Mai Duc Chung is the most successful coach in Vietnamese football. It is not an exaggeration to say that he is an experienced “polisher”.
Mr. Mai Duc Chung has led Vietnam to the most successful performances in the history of women’s football at the SEA Games – Southeast Asian Games, with 8 gold medals, far surpassing Thailand, the second-place team. Among the 8 gold medals won by the Vietnamese women’s team, Mr. Chung has been the head coach for 6 of them in 2003, 2005, 2017, 2019, 2021, and 2023. No other football coach in Vietnam or the region has achieved this record.
Coach Mai Duc Chung
Surpassing all regional football achievements, Mr. Mai Duc Chung has successfully guided the team to join the 2023 World Cup for the first time in history. This achievement was reached despite the team facing significant personnel losses because of COVID-19. It will be a long time before the country can see another record-breaking achievement like this.
Coach Mai Duc Chung has dedicated almost his entire life to women’s football in Vietnam. He has taken the Vietnamese women’s team from 0 to the top of the region.
“We are very happy. The team has fulfilled their promise to the fans with this victory. Words cannot describe the joy we feel at this moment.” shared Coach Mai Duc Chung after the memorable victory against Taiwan. “The goals scored by Vietnam were all beautiful and timely. I want to thank the team as a whole, and I can only express my gratitude in this way.”
One Step Closer to Women’s World Cup 2023
Vietnam’s national women’s football team has trained in Japan to prepare for the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup. They will travel to Germany in June for continuous training. From July 6 to July 17, the team will train in New Zealand to get used to the climate there.
In their first Women’s World Cup ever, Vietnam is in group E with defending champion the United States, the defending runner-up Netherlands and the play-off winner Portugal. They will have their ever-first match at the World Cup against the U.S on July 22. The next two matches will be on July 27 and August 1.
According to coach Mai Duc Chung, this group is really challenging, but it’s a golden opportunity for the team to accumulate more experience. Honestly, it’s a precious chance and rare occasion that they get to play such top teams.
The whole team is preparing to be in good physical condition for the World Cup 2023. On the morning of May 30, the team had a tough physical training session with Coach Cedric. It felt really challenging and exhausting. This week, the team will have two friendly matches on Friday and Saturday against their male counterparts.
The Vietnamese women’s national team is working hard to complete their training phase in Hanoi before heading to Germany for intensive training in preparation for the World Cup 2023. In contrast to the initial days after the SEA Games, where they had relaxed and reduced training intensity, the team is now training at a higher intensity, focusing on physical exercises.
Everything is prepared for the historic moment. The Vietnamese national women’s team is putting all their effort and dedication into preparing for the World Cup 2023. Every member of the team is giving their all.
Will a Miracle Happen Again?
Now, the big question is, can the women’s football team make history once again? Will they beat tough teams like the United States, Portugal, and the Netherlands to move forward in the tournament? We can only find out when the games begin. But one thing is certain, the accomplishments of the women’s team will always be cherished by their fans.
As they enter the biggest tournament in the world, their biggest asset is the unwavering support from their fans. They have been, are, and will always be the winners in the hearts of the Vietnamese people. Midfielder Van Su said that even earning one point in the World Cup would mean a lot to them.
Which talented players will help Vietnam continue their dream at the World Cup? Let’s get to know these amazing girls.
Huynh Nhu – The Leader
Huynh Nhu is the most accomplished player in the current Vietnamese women’s national team. She has won two gold medals in the SEA Games (2017 and 2019) and has been awarded the Vietnam Women’s Golden Ball in 2016, 2019, and 2020.
Huynh Nhu deserves the role of a leader due to her experience, talent, and influence both on and off the field. Currently playing in Portugal for Lank FC, she wears the number 9 jersey and plays as a forward. Besides her goal-scoring abilities, her clever positioning, versatility, and intelligent gameplay make Huynh Nhu a pillar of the team.
Pham Hai Yen – The Queen
Pham Hai Yen is the top goal scorer in the Asian Cup 2022 qualifiers, scoring 8 goals. Her achievement earned recognition from the AFC after the qualifiers. Although she didn’t score in the Asian Cup 2022 tournament in India, Hai Yen played a significant role in the team’s overall style of play.
Chuong Thi Kieu – An Outstanding Warrior
In the Asian Cup 2022 tournament, Chuong Thi Kieu was a strong defensive shield with her sharp situational awareness, accurate interceptions, and many goal-saving moments for goalkeeper Kim Thanh. In the match against Chinese Taipei, she scored the opening goal and boosted the team’s spirit, leading to a victory.
Tran Thi Kim Thanh – The “Spider”
In the Asian Cup finals, Vietnam’s goalkeeper, Tran Thi Kim Thanh, was honored by the AFC as the goalkeeper with the most saves (27 times). Despite her height of only around 1.65 meters, she jumps high to reach the crossbar. Nonetheless, she consistently fulfills her responsibilities with excellence.
Alongside these talented girls, there are still many other “warriors” from Vietnam ready to enter the tournament. The stage is set for the Women’s World Cup 2023, and the fans fully support the female national players, ready to cheer them on and celebrate their achievements. Women’s soccer has grown in popularity. And when women play, it’s not only a match, it’s also a whole story.
It’s clear that Vietnam’s goal is not to win the championship. Their goal is to give their all, showcase the fighting qualities and the spirit of Vietnamese people. Let’s support the Vietnamese women’s national football team on their upcoming journey and eagerly await to see if once again, a miracle will unfold.