|Centre of attention: Hoang Anh Gia Lai's Nguyen Tuan Anh has caught the attention of Dong Tam Long An's coach ahead of the two sides' match tomorrow. — Photo news.zing.com
HA NOI (VNS) — The Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) continues to attract considerable attention ahead of the second round of the Toyota V.League 1 this weekend.
The central highland team will face hosts Dong Tam Long An (DTLA) at the Tan An Stadium, which has been drawing thousands of fans ahead of the match, with fans queuing up to buy a ticket to much-awaited Sunday clash.
Fans are excited about not only supporting their home team, but also want to see HAGL's former national U19 team players, such as Nguyen Cong Phuong, Nguyen Tuan Anh, and Luong Xuan Truong, in person.
The HAGL have had a phenomenal season, gaining popularity months ahead of the league. They also proved their strength after the first match, in which they achieved a 4-2 win over Sanna Khanh Hoa.
However, coach Ngo Quang Sang of DTLA, said his team plans to break Hoang Anh Gia Lai's winning streak with a counter-attack defence.
"DTLA are not as strong as its rivals in the V.League 1. We have to therefore choose a suitable playing style. We are trying to come up with a good defence strategy against HAGL this Sunday," said Sang, adding that a strategy focusing on counter-attack might be good against the skilful players of HAGL.
"HAGL have strong players in all positions. I am really impressed with their midfielder (Nguyen Tuan) Anh. He plays the game very well," said Sang.
The host's chairman Vo Thanh Nhiem said his side had learnt their lesson from Sanna Khanh Hoa's loss.
"We will adopt a fair-play style but will give them no room to perform," Nhiem said.
Not only fans, but DTLA players are also excited about the imminent face-off.
"I am eager to face HAGL. That is because they are outstanding young players and my teammates and I want to play a good game against them," said national U23 team member Pham Hoang Lam. "We also want to persuade our fans to come support us regularly, and not only because of HAGL's presence."
Former national midfielder Phan Van Tai Em also shared the same sentiment.
Em was a football idol for HAGL's Anh and Truong when they were younger.
As faithful fans, these boys watched Em and his teammates for many years as DTLA played against HAGL in the past.
They also dreamt of one day lifting the AFF Cup like Em did during Viet Nam's triumph seven years ago.
"I am looking forward to seeing how differently they play during our first meet after years," said Em, who also queued up for tickets for family and friends, yesterday.
History might favour DTLA since HAGL have not won against Tan An during the last three matches.
Tan An Stadium has a capacity of up to 20,000 spectators, but during recent years the stadium has only accommodated a maximum of 7,000. This season the slightly rundown venue might only be able to accommodate 11,000, which is also much lower than people's demand.
Three days ahead of the match, fans have been seen jostling at the ticket kiosks for a couple of tickets.
Worried about ticket speculation, the organisers had decided to close the doors yesterday and will reopen them on Sunday to allow the sale of only two tickets per person. — VNS