|Young blood: Hoang Anh Gia Lai's U19 players will compete in the upcoming V-League season in a decision that has puzzled both experts and football fans in the country. — Photo thethaohcm.vn
HA NOI (VNS)— Hoang Anh Gia Lai have become an enigma ahead of the Toyota V-League 1 season to be held from January 4 to September 20.
Doan Nguyen Duc, owner of the club, decided to terminate the contracts of nearly 30 players several months ago. He then pushed his U19s to compete at the national premier league. His decisions have attracted people's curiosity.
All the young players grew up playing in the Hoang Anh Gia Lai-Arsenal JMG Academy. Most of them are members of the national U19 squad and have recently attracted the public's attention by exhibiting the spirit of fair play and showing off effective game techniques under Coach Guillaume Graechen.
Although many experts disagreed with his decision, Duc asserted that his players were capable of competing.
Duc sent his team to participate in some tournaments and to undergo training abroad. Young goal hunters – Nguyen Van Toan and Le Cong Phuong – will be guided by Sweden's Lukanovic Darko to execute a perfect attacking force.
After the trial period, midfielder Mitja Morec from Slovenia received Graechen's nod to become part of the team. He will be working with sharp players Nguyen Tuan Anh, Nguyen Huu Dong Trieu and Luong Xuan Truong, who won the hearts of many Vietnamese people through their performance in year-round matches.
Goalkeeping is considered Hoang Anh Gia Lai's weakest position.
After Pham Van Tien and Le Van Truong failed to assure Coach Graechen of their abilities to deliver victories for the team, he decided to sign contracts with former national U23 team's Nguyen Minh Nhat to play as the No 1 keeper.
The French coach is satisfied with his formation. In addition, the team will be assisted by fitness trainer Anthony Debant. He guaranteed that the players will be able to run 10km per match without any difficulty.
The players are being given uniforms and VND50 million (US$2,300) worth of software to control and evaluate their health throughout the games.
A week before the tournament, Hoang Anh Gia Lai received VND15 billion ($714,300) worth of sponsorship funding from Nutifood for this season.
"Hoang Anh Gia Lai do not aim to achieve fleeting success. Our target this season is to stay with the V-League exclusively," shared Duc.
"We want to provide our young players opportunities while they mature and grow with the team. If these players can show progress, then I will be pleased with our decision," he noted.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai ranked ninth last season.
This year, Hoang Anh Gia Lai attained a breakthrough in their commercial strategy. They are the first team in Viet Nam to sell season tickets and team uniforms.
Duc last week announced that Hoang Anh Gia Lai will finally earn a profit after 10 years of being involved with football.
In their first match tomorrow (this Sunday), Hoang Anh Gia Lai will face Sanna Khanh Hoa who beat them 2–1 at the four-side tournament in early December. — VNS