|High hopes: SHB Da Nang seen in last year's national premier league. They aim to finish in the top three this season. — Photo vietnamplus.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — SHB Da Nang will be without key midfielders Vo Huy Toan and Ho Ngoc Thang due to injuries for the first half of the V. League season that kicks off on Saturday, but still target a top three finish.
Thang scored three goals and Toan scored six in the national premier league last year, and their performances for the club earned them call-ups for the national U23 team and the senior team last year.
"Da Nang want to finish in the top three this year. With the current squad and careful preparations, the team are capable of meeting that target," said Bui Xuan Hoa, chairman of the club.
Ahead of the new season, the central city team have signed contracts with midfielders Le Hoang Thien, Nguyen Thanh Hai former U23 national Lam Anh Quang and some young players to strengthen their squad.
In terms of foreign players, Da Nang have agreed contracts with strikers Gaston Merlo of Argentina and Horace James of Jamaica.
Merlo and James scored eight goals for Da Nang in a recent friendly tournament in Gia Lai Province. The 31-year-old Merlo has fallen in love with the football-crazy city of Da Nang ever since he started playing for the team in 2009. In his debut season, he scored 15 goals to help Da Nang win the league after a 17-year wait. Notably, he scored 68 goals for Da Nang between 2008 and 2014.
"We only finished ninth out of 14 teams last year. We will have to make some changes to turn things around," said coach Le Huynh Duc.
Da Nang boast a strong squad, with midfielder Nguyen Vu Phong, Chau Le Phuoc Vinh and striker Huynh Quoc Anh all on their books.
The fixture list also gives them an easy start to the season. In the first five matches, they will face average teams including Dong Thap, Khanh Hoa and raw recruits Ha Noi T&T.
Da Nang, who won the V-League Championship in 1992, 2009 and 2012, finished fourth in 2014. — VNS