|Up for the cup: Hoaøng Anh Gia Lai striker Nguyeãn Vaên Toaøn (centre) celebrates after scoring a goal in a V.League match against SHB Ñaø Naüng. Hoaøng Anh Gia Lai will play Viettel in the first round match of the National Cup today. — VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — The first National Cup round match will be kicked off today with all eyes on Hòang Anh Gia Lai versus Viettel tie at the Pleiku Stadium, Gia Lai Province.
Both sides will be using young players who have trained at their own football training centres.
Hòang Anh Gia Lai have been known nationwide for their talented generation over the last few years.
They have a better profile compared to their rivals as they have won the 2014 National U-19, and 2015 U-21 international tournaments. They also entered the quarter-final round last year.
In this match they will welcome back two national team members, Văn Thanh and Nguyễn Văn Tòan, who made their mark in the World Cup qualifier against Iraq on Tuesday.
The hosts have other players who fans are familiar with, such as Nguyễn Hữu Đông Triều, Phan Thanh Hậu and Minh Vương. They have much more experience as compared to Viettel who mainly focus on training and loaning players.
Viettel’s U-19 squad remained in second place at this year’s national championship. They will be strengthened with some other faces such as Trương Văn Thiết, Bùi Đình Sơn and Lưu Công Sơn, who are highly appreciated after several years of playing on loan with different teams.
Viettel also have midfielder Bùi Tiến Dũng who knows all Hòang Anh Gia Lai’s players after competing against them for half a year in Pleiku.
The winner of the match will play SHB Đà Nẵng in the next round.
The only match of two V. League teams is between Sông Lam Nghệ An and Sanna Khánh Hòa.
Sông Lam Nghệ An have been a senior team here but it has not been easy for them to notch up a win today.
It is for the second year that Sanna Khánh Hòa have competed in both, the V. League and the National Cup. They, however, had a draw and a win over Sông Lam Nghệ An in their two meets in 2015.
In the V. League this year, Sanna Khánh Hòa rank sixth, four steps higher than Soâng Lam Ngheä An after four rounds.
The only advantage for Sông Lam Nghệ An is that they play on their home ground where they are backed by their most faithful and loyal supporters.
Apart from these matches, all other V. League teams are said to have easy games in the first round as their rivals are from the First Division league.
Thanh Hóa, currently second in the V. League table, will face HCM City FC on their home turf. While Thanh Hóa showed their ambitions for being champions, HCM City have just returned to the competition last year after a few years of absence.
Quảng Ninh Coal versus Bình Phước is the earliest match of this round.
This will be first match that Quaûng Ninh will be playing under new coach Phan Thanh Hùng, while Bình Phước are under a new executive director Nguyễn Minh Phương.
Elsewhere, Tây Ninh will play Đồng Nai, Quảng Nam will welcome Huế FC, Đắk Lắk will see Cà Mau, and Nam Định will travel to Phú Yên. — VNS