|Ha Noi T&T players celebrate after scoring a goal in the V-League. The Vietnamese champions will play Malaysia's Selangor today in the group round of the AFC Cup. — Photo hff.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Ha Noi T&T of Viet Nam will advance to the last 16 of the AFC Cup if it beats hosts Selangor of Malaysia at the Selayang Municipal Council Stadium tonight.
Playing in the competition for only the second time, the V-League champions have had an excellent start in Group F, winning three consecutive games, including a 1-0 victory over Selangor in Ha Noi two weeks ago. That win won them five points and took them to the top of the table.
A win in the return match at the Shah Alam Stadium tonight would see them reach the knockout stage. Even a draw would be enough if Arema Indonesia beat Maldives' Maziya in the other Group F game today.
But coach Phan Thanh Hung does not want to look beyond the match against Selangor right now.
Defender Sam Gallagher will be back after recovering from injury. Striker duo Marronkle Gonzalo and Hoang Vu Samson are in peak form, while midfielder Pham Van Quyet is topping the best scorer list with five goals in his pocket.
"This is an important match because both Selangor and T&T have a chance to qualify. But we will try our best to obtain a good result in enemy territory," he said.
"We have the advantage of having a full team without any injuries or suspensions, but Selangor has a very good line-up, with both local and foreign players."
While the T&T squad is in good shape, the same cannot be said of Selangor which badly needs a win after picking up only two points from their first three games.
Selangor coach Mehmet Durakovic has directed his boys to be on the attack mode right from the start.
Durakovic, a former Selangor stalwart from Australia, said that his team needs an early goal to win the match and to boost its chances of qualifying for the second round because it has managed to register only two draws and one loss in their three outings.
"Obviously, we need to attack from the beginning as we need all three points... I must admit it won't be an easy task playing in so many matches within a couple of weeks, but we will try our best," Durakovic was quoted as saying on themalaymailonline.com.
Durakovic said several key players would not play tonight. "Midfielder K Gurusamy will also be out for a few months or maybe a year (due to a knee injury. We are suffering from a number of injuries but we have to deal with it and hopefully, the players will get the job done," said Durakovic.
"Defender Steve Pantelidis was suspended from this match after he got two yellow cards; and Andik Vermansah and Shahrom Kalam are doubtful due to injury problems. However, we need to go out there with what that we have and perform. We will be attacking from the starting whistle because we need all three points. But it will not be easy."
The Aussie has also reminded his players not to underestimate the capability of their opponents because the Vietnamese side has good players. — VNS