|Team effort: Ha Noi T&T players pictured during a recent AFC Cup match. They will meet Arbil of Iraq in the quarter-finals today. — Photo vtc.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Ha Noi T&T and Vissai Ninh Binh are facing tough hurdles at their opponents' respective homecourts in the second leg of the Asian Football Federation Cup's quarter-final round today.
T&T will play Arbil of Iraq at the Saida Municipal Stadium in Lebanon, which was chosen for being neutral in the light of the unstable political conditions in Iraq.
Coach Nguyen Van Sy and his Ninh Binh team arrived in Hong Kong on Sunday, taking along only 16 players in a bid to avenge their loss against Kitchee. The hosts won the first leg 4-2 last week.
Coach Phan Thanh Hung of T&T has made some changes in the composition of his team in anticipation of tough challenges from their West Asian rival, who pocketed a 1-0 win in the first leg match last August 19.
One remarkable replacement is second goalkeeper Nguyen Van Cong, who will be on the starting lineup, replacing top goalkeeper Duong Hong Son, who will be resting at home.
Son made a big error in the game against Iraq last Tuesday that, according to Hung, has placed his team in a much tougher situation than before.
He added that Son and most of his players performed poorly in the first half of that game because they were in poor physical condition following a prolonged domestic season.
He said Arbil players, in comparison, were more focused and smarter in the use of tactics and organisation. T&T must score at least two goals in Lebanon to secure a semi-final berth.
Meanwhile, Ninh Binh will need to score at least three goals in their match to turn things around, but Sy is not writing off his team's chances yet.
The coach expressed disappointment over their score but was satisfied with his players' fighting spirit. "They have a high level of mental toughness, although the situation that the club is facing now and in the future will be very difficult," Sy said.
"It will be very difficult for us to progress to the semi-finals, but I still believe in my players and they have nothing to lose now," he added. — VNS