HCM CITY — The battle to avoid relegation is as hot as the race for the V-League 2012 title with the gap having narrowed to the bare minimum between teams at both ends of the table.
With Hai Phong already demoted to the First Division, Dong Thap and Kien Giang are the most likely teams to follow suit.
Dong Thap, who are second from the bottom with 24 points, just one point below Kien Giang, will visit Hoang Anh Gia Lai, currently ranked eighth with 30 points.
Both teams are not in good form. While Dong Thap has lost three recent games, Hoang Anh Gia Lai have won nothing in the past two weeks.
Kien Giang's trip to Thanh Hoa today is made more difficult because of the latter's unexpected defeat by already-demoted Hai Phong last week.
In order to secure a place in the V-League next season, Thanh Hoa needs at least three more points and the match against Kien Giang is a good opportunity for them to completely banish relegation worries.
The third match today is not of much significance. Binh Duong are nine points away from the top three teams and their opponent Hai Phong is already demoted.
Meanwhile, leading title contenders Ha Noi T&T and SHB Da Nang are likely to maintain the distance between themselves and third-placed Sai Gon Xuan Thanh, who are four points behind.
Hosts Ha Noi T&T, who lead the table with 45 points, will be too strong for Khanh Hoa at Hang Day while host Da Nang are clear favourites over Navibank Sai Gon.
Sai Gon Xuan Thanh have no choice but to beat Ninh Binh at home (Thong Nhat Stadium), but it is not going to be an easy task. Their opponents are in fifth place with 33 points and have pocketed 12 of 15 points recently.
Hosts Song Lam Nghe An, who failed to defend their 2011 title when they drew with Navibank last week, will take on Ha Noi FC in a match which is of little consequence. — VNS