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Coach Truong Viet Hoang is welcome by his players in the day of taking V.League 1 title. Photo 360vn.net

“At the beginning of the tournament, we had a lot of pressure. However, over time, the pressure was gradually removed, except for Sunday's match. In the last minutes of the game, we really suffered a lot of pressure.

“Anyway, we overcame everything and this championship is completely deserved. Hanoi had two consecutive seasons to win the V.League 1 title, but Viettel surpassed and blocked their third consecutive championship.

"I am very happy and touched because this is the effort of the whole team in the season which has ended successfully,” said Hoang.

At the end of the event’s first leg, Viettel were in second place behind Sai Gon FC.

“I used to say that Viettel need to learn carefully the lesson of failure in the 2020 National Cup final against Hanoi in which Viettel were the runners-up after a 2-1 loss to Hanoi. In recent matches, my players have practised the tactics of the club very well. This victory is amazing. My players have shown a great deal of courage," said Hoang.

Viettel won the title with a young squad in only their second season back in the top flight after several years in the lower divisions.

The victory was even sweeter for coach Hoang as he used to play for the side when they were known as The Cong and now the young squad have a chance to once again become a formidable force in Vietnamese football.

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Coach Truong Viet Hoang celebrates with his wife on the day Viettel won the championship. — Photo webgiaitri.vn

Talking about the league this year, Hoang said he was impressed by the efforts to finish the season despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This victory I would like to dedicate to fans of Viettel as well as The Cong and fans across the country who have watched and supported the team,” said Hoang.

Industrious, dynamic midfielder

Twenty-two years ago, when The Cong last won the national premier league in 1998, Hoang was an industrious midfielder who played in the shadow of the legendary Nguyen Hong Son. Son played for the The Cong and the Vietnam national team as a striker and midfielder and is widely regarded as one of the country's greatest ever players.

 

When The Cong won the championship, Hoang was called up to the national team by coach Alfred Riedl, to the surprise of many.

“Hoang faced objections at that time because fans thought that he was only called up as he was a member of The Cong, but watching Hoang practise and make efforts in each training session you would see exactly why coach Riedl trusted him. It wasn't until the 1998 Tiger Cup semi-final that Vietnam defeated Thailand 3-0, including the wonderful opening goal from him, everyone admitted that Riedl was right. Hoang played well behind Hong Son,” said Vu Tien Thanh, a former assistant of Riedl.

Few people know the full story of Hoang’s goal against the Thai team in the 1998 Tiger Cup semi-finals. It was September 2, 1998, one day before the semi-final against Thailand, when the whole Vietnamese team was at the National Sports Training Centre in Hanoi and no one was allowed to go out. But Hoang was allowed to go home to have a meal with his family.

It was a meal that Hoang has never forgotten because his father had been granted a special reprieve to leave prison for the day to eat with his family. He had been jailed for his role in the 1994 Dong Xuan Market fire and it was the first time father and son had seen each other for years.

Coach Riedl then confided that it was important for Hoang to have family meals and he looked at it as spiritual therapy for a player he loved and believed in.

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Coach Truong Viet Hoang once played for The Cong (now Viettel). — Photo plo.vn

Missed with Hai Phong, crowned with Viettel

From 2014 to 2019, Hoang, who was born in Hanoi in 1975, was head coach of Hai Phong FC and led the team to second place in the V.League 1 2016, only behind Hanoi FC on goal difference.

Hoang left Hai Phong to move to Viettel last year.

As head coach, Hoang had to find a way his young squad could win and this season, they managed to grind out several gritty 1-0 wins.

On Sunday, Viettel were crowned at Thong Nhat Stadium, to the surprise of few, as the officials of the Vietnam Football Federation and Vietnam Professional Football Joint-stock Company were present at Thong Nhat Stadium, not Cam Pha Stadium where Hanoi and Quang Ninh Coal were playing.

That was also a meaningful coronation for a coach and a team that say less, do more and take football seriously.  VNS

Viettel win, lead V.League1 in penultimate round

Viettel win, lead V.League1 in penultimate round

A 1-0 victory over Quang Ninh Coal on Tuesday helped Viettel FC gain an advantage in the V.League championship race.

Viettel FC lift V.League 1 trophy for first time

Viettel FC lift V.League 1 trophy for first time

Viettel FC have been crowned as the new champions of the V.League 1 following their 1-0 victory over hosts Saigon FC at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City on November 8.