HCM CITY — Top teams battle for top place as the V-League Eximbank 2012 has entered the last round of the first half of the season, with the bottom place already determined.
|Interception: SHB Da Nang striker Gaston Merlo (left) and his teammates will play against Vicem Hai Phong at home in the last round of the first half of the V-League tomorrow. — VNA/VNS Photo Van Son
The top place is still up for grabs for Ha Noi T&T, SHB Da Nang and Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) this weekend.
However, with three points ahead second-place Da Nang and third-placed SLNA, Ha Noi T&T have the upper hand in the race.
The Ha Noi-based team and the 2010 champions only need a draw against mid-table Navibank Sai Gon on Monday to ensure that they finish first after the first half of the season.
This should be a relatively easy mission for coach Phan Thanh Hung and his players, who are playing at home, even though Navibank have impressed recently.
Da Nang also have an easier task as the 2009 champions take on the bottom-placed Hai Phong at home.
Third-placed SLNA have the toughest mission as the defending champions have to visit Sai Gon FC regardless of the home team's poor run and change in the dugout.
HCM City-based team, who are in fifth place but just one point behind their opponent SLNA, has experienced its worst period since the beginning of the season, losing three matches in a row, which led to the dismissal of coach Lu Dinh Tuan earlier this week.
However, the club will have key players back. Playmaker Nguyen Rogerio and striker Antonio Carlos will be playing on Monday and along with Huynh Kesley Alves will form an real attacking threat to SLNA.
Meanwhile, SLNA has been the only unbeaten team in the V-League so far, including two wins in the last two weeks.
Becamex Binh Duong, who were stunned at home by Hoang Anh Gia Lai in a rain-drenched game last week, will take on Khanh Hoa at home and coach Dang Tran Chinh has no other goal but to win the game.
The task of running away from the relegation zone is not easy for Ha Noi and Kien Giang as they will have to travel to Ninh Binh and Dong Thap, which are also hungry for points.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai, in sixth place, are likely to extend their unbeaten streak to seven games as they only face mid-table Thanh Hoa. — VNS