"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. The head coach will take responsibility for this. My players tried their best, but they still have much to improve," Park said at a press conference on January 16 night, after Vietnam lost 1-2 to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in their last group stage game and got eliminated from the tournament.
Park also zeroed in on some positive aspects of the U23 team’s performance.
"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."
Park said his next focus was the World Cup 2022 qualifiers by the national team.
"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," he said.
Disappointed forward Nguyen Tien Linh apologized to the fans.
"It’s really hard to talk about the failure. We have to face it and look forward to the future. The players have tried their very best. Today was a loss, unfortunately. I want to say sorry to the fans."
Linh scored in the 16th minuted before the DPRK equalized 10 minutes later and set the winning score with a penalty shot in the 90th minute.
The DPRK’s head coach Ri Yu-li said Vietnam lost because they made many mistakes.
"It’s great that my players didn’t make (many) mistakes, while the Vietnamese defense had many. In such an intense match like this, you cannot allow mistakes," Yu-li said.
He also said Vietnam’s early elimination is part of what happens in football.
"I feel lucky because my players played well. I’m also not surprised that Vietnam, the runners-up, got crossed out of the tournament. Anything can happen in football."