Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Hải Phòng travel to Cần Thơ this weekend during the V.League round 23 match, aiming to get their first win out of four to complete their task of winning this year’s V.League.
They have to not only beat the hosts, but also kill rumours being spread in recent days that Cần Thơ would not pose a challenge to them as they want to repay a debt from last year when Hải Phòng ‘intentionally’ lost to Cần Thơ and helped them avoid relegation.
Now that Hải Phòng needs to win their first title and Cần Thơ are safe, it is reportedly time to show gratitude.
Questions were raised after that match last year, but both teams were cleared after an investigation, though rumours continue to float about.
Coach Trương Việt Hoàng strongly reacted against these rumours and said Hải Phòng had never given up any game, and that the coming match would be the same.
Cần Thơ also rejected all criticism.
“This year the V.League race will be tense till the last round. It is difficult to identify the winner, which makes the tournament competitive and lures people’s attention. However, do not use rumours to destroy my team as well as the event,” Vũ Quang Bảo of Cần Thơ said.
Bảo said such rumours badly affected players’ spirits.
“Last year we did not play well because of a poor quality team. However, Hải Phòng were not too strong to beat at that time. So, it is offensive to say that Hải Phòng gave us the game.
“We will pay attention to all last four matches and try to finish in the top five as per the target we have set from the beginning. There is no reason to help anyone to win,” Bảo said.
In this match, Cần Thơ will not have former national midfielder Trần Chí Công, who has been banned for five matches for criticising referees last week.
Meanwhile, Hải Phòng will have their best team with the return of their two Jamaican forwards Andre Diego Fagan and Errol Anthony Stevens from the bench.
Hải Phòng will have to keep their eyes on the match against Cần Thơ, but their ears might be directed towards the resort city of Nha Trang where Sanna Khánh Hòa will play SHB Đà Nẵng, the second-ranked team with only one point less than Hải Phòng.
Sanna Khánh Hòa seem to be a key part of the league as they will play all four title favourites in the last six rounds.
In the last two weeks, they beat Hải Phòng 3-0 and slowed down the team’s sprint to the finish.
Coach Võ Đình Tân said this week that Khánh Hòa were in a safe zone, but still wanted to defeat SHB Đà Nẵng to please local fans and to make the race more attractive till the end.
Khánh Hòa will then play fourth-ranked Hà Nội T&T next week and Quảng Ninh Coal, who are in the third place, in the second-last round.
They received good news from the Việt Nam Football Federation, who on Thurday decided to reduce the ban on midfielder Zarour Chaher from four to three matches.
It means Chaher could be back in action this weekend to improve Khánh Hòa’s defence.
Without him, Khánh Hòa lost 2-1 to Hoàng Anh Gia Lai last week.
At Thống Nhất Stadium in HCM City, Sài Gòn FC will play Hà Nội T&T in a match that is considered to be between ‘two brothers’ as they have the same sponsor.
Coach Nguyễn Đức Thắng said there was no way Sài Gòn would let Hà Nội T&T win easily.
“We have the same sponsor, but as we have moved to HCM City and play under the new name of Sài Gòn FC (previously Hà Nội FC), we promise to play beautiful and contributive football and say ‘no’ to match-fixing,” Thắng said.
“All these criteria will never change, so Hà Nội T&T and other teams are the same and can be beaten,” he said, adding that Sài Gòn FC also aimed to achieve the fifth position this year.
Quảng Ninh Coal will host Hoàng Anh Gia Lai on the home turf tomorrow. They are one of the top three teams, but President Phạm Thanh Hùng does not believe his club could win this season.
Hùng named Hải Phòng and SHB Đà Nẵng as the ones most likely to win.
He was happy with what Quảng Ninh had done. The team can, in theory, reach the top podium, but Hải Phòng and SHB Đà Nẵng have a much better chance with comfortable fixtures as well as easier rivals.
Elsewhere, relegated team Đồng Tháp will host the rich FLC Thanh Hóa who are ranked fifth. Quảng Nam will welcome former champions Sông Lam Nghệ An. And reigning champions Becamex Bình Dương will entertain Long An. — VNS