HO CHI MINH CITY: The four lucky winners of the Star Online Tiger Cup contest did not have to dwell long on which team to support during the Tiger Cup opening night match between Vietnam and Singapore at the Thong Nhat Stadium here last week.
The two couples, recently retired school principal Ling Tiong Soon and his wife Mee Ing from Petaling Jaya, and self-confessed football-crazy teacher from Pendang in Kedah, Teh Phei Choo, and her husband Frankie Teh, were totally engulfed in a red tide of 25,000 flag waving passionate Vietnamese fans.
So, instead of rooting for our southern neighbours, the four decided to join the fun of creating Mexican waves and screamed themselves hoarse in support of the home side.
The match ended in a 1-1 draw after Singapore's Indra Sahdan cancelled out Thach Bao Khanh's opening goal for Vietnam.
For the Lings, the trip to Vietnam came as a surprise as it was their son Dr. Ling Shih Gang who actually entered and won the contest.
But as he had also won a trip to watch the Euro 2004 Finals in Portugal earlier in the year, Shih Gang decided to give the Tiger Cup prize as a retirement present to his parents.
I have not seen anything like this before in my life. The Vietnam fans were very disciplined in going all out to cheer for their team throughout the entire 90 minutes.
Even when Vietnam were not playing that well towards the end of the game, their fans did not let up in their support for the players, said Tiong Soon.
Being ardent football fans, the Tehs enjoyed their first live international football match in Vietnam.
The organisers set up a fantastic trip for us and I feel lucky to have won this contest. We not only enjoyed the football match, which was remarkable because of the passionate fans, but also the friendly Vietnamese people, the sightseeing, the local food, the shopping and the Ho Chi Minh City charm, said Phei Choo, who least expected her slogan to win the grand prize when she entered the contest.
Four teenagers, who were the winners of another Tiger Cup contest by local radio station Hitz Fm, joined the four elderly winners for the trip.
Contest winner Ting Pang Yau literally screamed his way for an all-expense paid trip to watch the opening matches in Vietnam for himself and three of his best friends.
The contest required listeners to call-in and give their best Tiger Cup cheer live on radio.
The 19-year-old from Batu Gajah, Perak, chose his former SM Sultan Yussuf school buddies Ng Chee Hin, Thiagarajan and Looi Mun Wah to accompany him on the trip.
I thought someone was playing a prank when I was told that I had won the trip to Vietnam. My winning scream sounded like a part football fan, part rocker. I can barely talk now as I have lost my voice as a result of being persuaded by my friends to put my winning scream to good use during the Vietnam-Singapore match. It is too bad that all my screaming could not help the hosts to win the match, said the soft-spoken Pang Yau.