HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnamese football fans have called National Hangzhou Park Hang-seo a "sorcerer" after a series of successes from the Southeast Asian country's "Golden Star" team.
Vietnamese football fans celebrate the victory after the Vietnamese football team won the game against Syria at the 201
Thousands of people walked the streets of Hanoi late on Monday evening to celebrate an otherwise minor event in international football – a 1-0 victory over Syria in the quarter-finals of the Asian Games in Indonesia.
"I'm so pumped up, I cried all night," football fan Nguyen Hoang Ha said on Facebook. "Thank you Mr. Park Hang-seo."
A second Facebook user was more effusive.
"Park Hang-seo is Vietnam's football wizard, he has changed players and predicted the game so sharply," wrote Nguyen Son.
Another of her compatriots added wistfully, "I just wish the wizard Park Hang-seo Sensei would be Vietnamese. "
Park may be South Korean, but it has given football-loving Vietnam, which has never qualified for the World Cup a unified nation, its first international success.
When he led Vietnam to the final of the Asian Cup in January, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Vietnamese cities to wave flags and cheer in cheering scenes reminiscent of a revolution.
These scenes were repeated on Monday night when Parks' team defeated Syria to reach the semi-finals of the nation's first Asian Games and urged the 59-year-old to obtain Vietnamese citizenship for his coaching skills.
In a cruel rehearsal of his patriotism, Vietnam's semifinal will be against South Korea.
"Everyone knows I love my hometown, and I love my nation, but I'm currently the head coach of the Vietnam team," Park told reporters after Monday's game.
"We want to beat South Korea and reach the final".
RICE NOODLE HIDDINK
Park's success was followed closely by Korea, where football fans joked that he "did enough" and "should stop winning" to pave the way for a Korean victory.
He earned the nickname "ssal-dink" in Korean, which translates to "rice-noodle-hiddink" and is derived from a hybrid of the names of a popular Vietnamese court and the national hero Guus Hiddink.
Dutch coach Hiddink, whose assistant was Park, led South Korea into a fabulous run into the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup, which the nation held with Japan.
Vietnam has ordered the police and armed forces in the capital, Hanoi, to prevent large gatherings or protests during the National Day on September 2, Hanoi People's Committee said Monday.
But football celebrations threaten to scare off these plans. A sea of fans waving Vietnamese flags rode after the victory on Monday on cars, motorcycles and even tractors and an ambulance. That's the national excitement.
And for South Korea's son Heung-min, the semi-finals on Wednesday are even higher: Korean law states that every capable man must report to national service for 21 months before his 28th birthday.
At the age of 26, Tottenham Hotspur striker is short of time to qualify for all Olympic medal winners or Asian Games champions.
"We wish our boys a great performance, cool heads and warm hearts," wrote Vietnam football fan Khanh Duy Phan on Facebook.
"And we hope that Son Heung-min enjoys his military service."
Additional Reports by Khanh Vu, Edited by Nick Mulvenney