National Under-23 coach Hoang Van Phuc on October 31 was suspended from working at the ongoing Binh Duong Television International Football (BTV) Cup in Binh Duong province.

Phuc was suspended after the dismal performance of his players during a match against Bangu Atletic, a visitor from Brazil. The match was a good show up until the 58th minute when Phi Son scored his second goal to make it 3-1 for Vietnam.

After the goal, Phuc substituted several team members who later, together with the other players, showed no initiative in their play, allowing chances for the Brazilians to narrow and level the results despite their being down to 10 men since the second half.

A draw will help Vietnam, ranked second in Group B, to avoid host team Becamex Binh Duong in the semi-final. Their rivals will be the South Korean team on November 2.

Despite many boos, shouts and screams from the stands, coach Phuc and his assistants did not react. Phuc was strongly criticised and will not work with the team until after the tournament which closes on November 3.

Along with Phuc, head of the U23 delegation Truong Hai Tung was also temporarily fired.

"It is one of the warm-up tournaments for the U23s ahead of the approaching SEA Games, but they lost the trust of the national fans. We have to be strict in punishing Phuc and Tung because they did not recognise the problem, tarnishing our football team," said the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) chairman Nguyen Trong Hy.

"These are only temporally punishments. After the competition, we will examine the responsibilities of each person an apply suitable bans. VFF will have to act strongly to solve its negative problems. It is also necessary for a successful SEA Games for Vietnam," Hy said.

Vuong Bich Thang, head of the National Sports Administration agreed with Hy and VFF. "The administration strongly supports the VFF's decision. Both Tung and Phuc did not complete their duties, leading to such a shame which scratched out the fame of the tournament as well as the U23 team," Thang said.

Assistant coach Phung Thanh Phuong will replace Phuc for the rest of the Cup, while Ngo Le Bang, VFF general secretary, will be temporary head of the team delegation.

Phuc, 49, was invited to coach the national and U23 teams early this year after the VFF witnessed some of the remarkable achievements in his coaching career. Last year, under Phuc, the U22 team won the silver medal at the BTV Cup.-VNA