Vietnam coach Riedl resigns
Vietnam's football coach, Austrian Alfred Riedl, resigned Wednesday following criticism from fans and officials over his side's performance at the SEA Games.
The 58-year-old had a meeting with Vietnam Football Federation (VVF) officials late Tuesday after his U-23 team lost 3-1 in a penalty shootout against Myanmar in Thailand, and he stepped down early Wednesday.
"Coach Riedl submitted his resignation this morning," said federation spokesman Nguyen Lan Trung, according to state media which said that VFF general secretary Tran Quoc Tuan had accepted the resignation.
Riedl, who had a farewell meeting with his squad and was reportedly heading back to Hanoi, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Deputy coach Mai Duc Chung was temporarily placed in charge of the squad.
The Austrian has worked in the south-east Asian country on and off since 1998 and started his third term as Vietnam's national coach in 2005.
Under Riedl, Vietnam won the silver medal at the Tiger Cup 1998, the bronze at the Dunhill Cup 1999, and silver medals at the 1999 and 2003 SEA Games.
He was hailed as a hero after the 2007 AFC Asia Cup when Vietnam surprised fans by reaching the quarter finals, only to be beaten by Iraq.
Vietnamese fans demonstrated their affection for him when he required a new kidney earlier in the year and more than 70 people offered to donate the organ. One fan was chosen, and the transplant led to a full recovery for Riedl.
"I asked them why they wanted to do this, and they said: 'You did something good for us, and now we help you,'" Riedl later told reporters.
A football globe-trotter, the former Austrian national player has also coached teams in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Iran, Liechtenstein, Kuwait and the Palestinian territories.
Known to be outspoken, Riedl has complained that, although many Vietnamese are enthusiastic football fans, the country of 84 million lacks sporting infrastructure and has fewer than 60 clubs.
In July he said his side could never be a major force in Asia because the players are physically too small.
"We can do something in the south-east Asian region and sometimes in the Asian region but generally we can't have success because we are too small," he told AFP. "You saw this, their players are 1.85m and ours are 1.70m-something."