|Sanna Khanh Hoa players seen during a V.League match. The tournament's surprise makers will play Quang Ninh Coal in the 11th round match at the Cam Pha Stadium, Quang Ninh Province, today. — VNS Photo
HA NOI (VNS) — Ranked seventh with 17 points after 10 rounds has been an unexpected success for V.League newcomers Sanna Khanh Hoa.
The central region team are expected to have an interesting tournament, especially after it defeated title favourites Ha Noi T&T last week.
"I am a little surprised with our position. However, it is a logical surprise," said Coach Vo Dinh Tan. "Khanh Hoa are a united team with young players, who have played together for years, and some foreign players, who have helped us stay with the V.League 1."
"In fact, we are nothing compared with other teams, but we know how to be powerful as a united team," Tan added.
"We have carefully worked on our physical fitness and helped players perform with each other in harmony. We work out for every match and spend time studying our rivals. We are always loyal to the counter-attack style and players know that they must follow team discipline and the coach's strategy," he said.
This playing style has helped them tie 1-1 against Thanh Hoa, who stood third last season during the fourth round. Later they drew a match with former champions Song Lam Nghe An 2-2, and in the ninth round they tied with two-time winners SHB Da Nang.
Sanna Khanh Hoa have set their own record for not losing nine matches in a row. This weekend, Khanh Hoa will play against Quang Ninh Coal, who are currently in the third place.
Quang Ninh yesterday received a strong push after being promised six I Phone 6s from their fan club, which will be given to the players that showcase the best performance today.
In another activity, Ha Noi T&T will host the young team Hoang Anh Gia Lai, who landed in the capital city some days ago.
Despite being considered one of the strongest squads, T&T are struggling in the middle of the rankings table.
They are currently placed at the ninth spot with only 10 points, just two steps higher than their rivals, who are also trying to bag more points to avoid exiting the competition.
The team have some aged players, including 33-year-old goalkeeper Duong Hong Son and defenders Nguyen Hong Tien and Nguyen Van Bien, who turned 30 this year.
They will have to face Nguyen Cong Phuong, Nguyen Tuan Anh and Van Toan, who are skilful and known for their rapid speed.
Among T&T's advantages is that they are home to Golden Ball winner Pham Thanh Luong and Bronze Ball holder Nguyen Van Quyet.
The team are also placing its trust in strikers Gonzallo Damian Marronkle and Hoang Vu Sam Son, who could make use of their height against Hoang Anh Gia Lai, who are not that good with high balls.
Another reason to root for the hosts winning is that Hoang Anh Gia Lai have lost all of their matches, while playing on away grounds.
With two wins and two draws after 10 matches, they are going to emerge as the worst Hoang Anh Gia Lai team in history.
In other stadiums, Song Lam Nghe An will welcome Can Tho; SHB Da Nang are to entertain Dong Thap, Thanh Hoa will visit Quang Nam; Dong Nai are awaiting Dong Tam Long An and the defending champions Binh Duong will face Hai Phong. — VNS