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Historic soccer run brings unequal Vietnam together

Under-23 team's trip to Asian finals fosters sense of national camaraderie

Fans in Hanoi react after Vietnam's loss in the AFC U23 Championship final against Uzbekistan on Jan. 27.   © Reuters

HANOI -- The Vietnam national team's first-ever appearance in the finals of the Asian Football Confederation U23 championship, triggered mass celebrations across the country, despite a close defeat in the final game on Saturday. 

Hundreds of motorbikes and more than a thousand people thronged around the Hanoi Opera House at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, after the semifinal victory over Qatar, waving Vietnamese flags and making noise with drums, horns and shouts. An even larger crowd gathered near Hoan Kiem Lake, completely clogging the streets.

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