Hanoi: Captain Nguyen Van Quyet hailed the Hanoi FC support who came out to cheer the Vietnamese side to a place in the 2019 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Final, after they defeated Ceres Negros of the Philippines 3-2 on aggregate following a 2-1 victory at Hang Day Stadium on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old Van Quyet led by example, providing the assist for Pape Omar Faye's opener before scoring a vital second himself from close range.
Substitute Curt Dizon did pull one back for the visitors with five minutes remaining, but the hosts were able to see out the tie and secure a place in the next round of the tournament for the first time since 2014 when, under the AFC Cup’s previous format, they reached the quarter-finals.
"Firstly, and most importantly, I want to say thank you to all of our fans who came to the stadium on a very hot day in Hanoi," said the skipper, who was part of the 2014 side.
"We were physically quite tired from a busy schedule of matches, so we had to draw on their support and play with a very high spirit.
"Therefore, we want to give this victory to all of our fans and supporters who cheered us on!"
While attention now switches to the ASEAN Zonal Final at the end of July, Van Quyet insisted that his teammates, among whom number many of the Vietnam national side, would be able to balance their workload with fixtures in their domestic league and cup competitions also coming thick and fast.
Next up for Hanoi FC is the Vietnamese National Football Cup on Sunday and a meeting with Hong Linh Ha Tinh FC.
"For the upcoming fixtures, we also have to ensure we play well in our V.League and cup ties," added Van Quyet.
"But, of course, for the AFC Cup we will try our best to play at our highest level because it's been a very long time since a Vietnamese team has reached such as stage in a Continental competition."
For Ceres, by contrast, it is the first time they have failed to reach the ASEAN Zonal Final since the tournament revamp in 2017 when they were crowned inaugural champions.
And midfielder Stephan Schrock admitted the club's disappointment at their end of their AFC Cup campaign.
FULL-TIME | #HanoiFC ?? 2-1 @CeresNegrosFC ?? (Aggregate 3-2)
Congratulations to Hanoi FC who progress to the ASEAN Zone Final! An exciting match ends in Vietnam with the hosts the victors. #HANvCER #AFCCup2019 pic.twitter.com/hiLBvBVeES
— AFC Cup (@AFCCup) June 25, 2019
"We gave it our all, but it’s not easy to play away in Hanoi against such a strong team," said the German-born star.
"It was an even contest over the two legs but ultimately tonight goals make the difference: they scored two and we scored one.
"In the end, it’s unlucky that we have to go home."