Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI –Victory over Quảng Ninh Coal this weekend on home turf will help Hải Phòng level the record of seven consecutive wins that Hoàng Anh Gia Lai set up in 2004.Hải Phòng are not considered a candidate for the cup this season but they have had a phenomenon run with six wins and 18 points to stand on top of the table.
Their keys are their forwards with their sharp scoring skills.
“I asked my players to counter-attack in all previous matches but my foreign strikers worked perfectly,” Hoàng said about the secret that ensured his team’s triumph.
Errol Stevens and Andre Fagan scored eight goals and assisted four times in Hải Phòng’s 14 winning goals.
They are the best duo in the V. League at present.
The defenders are not as good as their teammates in the front line, but Văn Phú, Anh Hùng, and Văn Nhiên and goalkeeper Đinh Xuân Việt are a strong shield against any attack.
Việt suffered only two goal losses after six rounds, the best performance among V. League teams.
However the coming match is considered the biggest challenge that the coach Trương Việt Hoàng and his team face since the beginning of the season.
“Quảng Ninh, under their coach Phan Thanh Hùng, have become redoubtable rivals. They are a team of excellent individuals and I am sure the match will be tense,” Hoàng said.
Quảng Ninh have shown potential this season but are struggling in the lower half of the ranking.
After six matches they are at No 9 with only seven points.
However, they have made a comeback with an important 3-1 win over former champions Sông Lam Nghệ An last week under new coach Hùng who was the former national coach.
In that match their best players, Dyachenko Rodion Sergey and Vũ Minh Tuấn, marked their presence with two goals.
Further, Hùng will welcome back national defender Nguyễn Thanh Hiền, who failed to make the team one month ago because of injury.
The dynamic player whose scoring skill is a plus, will not only strengthen Quảng Ninh’s defence but also become a new element in the front line.
Going by sheer statistics, Quảng Ninh have not won anything in their earlier visits to Hải Phòng in the last two years.
Another match that has caught people’s attention is the one between Hoàng Anh Gia Lai and Sông Lam Nghệ An in the Central Highlands city of Pleiku.
It will be a clash between numerous national and U-23 players.
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai players have not been allowed to meet with Sông Lam Nghệ An players ahead of the match to avoid gossip, according to their managing board.
Last season, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai came from behind to beat Sông Lam Nghệ An 3-1 in the last match and successfully stayed with the V. League.
Before and after the match, people saw the players of two sides meeting and chatting. It gave rise to rumours of match-fixing, even though after the match the bosses of both clubs made things amply clear.
Nguyễn Tấn Anh, representative of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai, said the new rule would be applicable till the rest of the season.
This year, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai are in a good mood after their second win over Cần Thơ last Sunday, while Sông Lam Nghệ An on the hand lost 1-3 by Quảng Ninh Coal.
Midfielder Quế Ngọc Hải of Sông Lam Nghệ An said his team would return home with three points.
The team, despite playing on away ground, will receive the support of some 2,000 supporters who will travel from HCM City and Nghệ An Province to ‘make Pleiku yellow’ with their fan club’s uniform and banners.
“Their three best players are on loan, but they still have other talented players to fill the gaps. They are now more experienced than last year,” Hải said.
Hải received a gift of VNĐ400 million (US$18,000) from the Hoàng Anh Gia Lai boss to as compensation for an injury he had inflicted on SHB Đà Nẵng’s player Trần Anh Khoa last season. He had been asked to pay VNĐ800 million as a fine which would be used for Khoa’s treatment, or Hải would have been banned. The Hoang Anh Gia Lai boss Đoàn Nguyên Đức generously offered to pay half the fine.
“I thanked Đức profusely. The money he gave me was precious, and he helped me stay out of big trouble. But I am a player of Sông Lam Nghệ An and I will do the best for my team. I want a win, so have no choice but to play with 100 per cent of my ability,” Hải said.
In their eight meets, the score is equal, with each side having won three and drawn two.
A game Cần Thơ versus FLC Thanh Hóa is between two rich clubs of the league.
Both sides spent billions of đồng in shopping for numerous famous names to prepare for the season.
They helped them a lot with Thanh Hóa coming second in the ranking and Cần Thơ fifth, a positive place for a team who plays in the V. League in the second year.
Cần Thơ have their home turf advantage and they can expect a good result as they have won all their matches at home this season.
This is also a match where the coach Vũ Quang Bảo meets with his former team for the first time since he left Thanh Hóa for Cần Thơ last February.
A game between defending champions Becamex Bình Dương and SHB Đà Nẵng is the latest match of this round.
Bình Dương, who were eliminated from the AFC Champions League, now have only the V. League tournament to play this season.
And their main duty is to defend their title.
Elsewhere, Sài Gòn FC is trying to win their first game at their new home, when they host Long An at the Thống Nhất Stadium.
Hà Nội T&T found their touch after beating Long An 5-2 last week and will visit Đồng Tháp, while Quảng Nam will entertain Sanna Khánh Hoà on home soil. – VNS