Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — V.League champions Hà Nội FC will start their Asian Football Confederation Cup Group Stage campaign against Ceres Negros from the Philippines in Hà Nội.
In a press briefing on Monday, coach Chu Đình Nghiêm of Hà Nội showed his respect for the visiting side.
“I watched their matches last season and it seemed that they are a good team. Their four foreign players from Japan and Spain will be a concern in the match,” said Nghiêm.
Hà Nội, formerly Hà Nội T&T, will play the game without several key players such as midfielder Phạm Thành Lương and defenders Nguyễn Đại Đồng and Sầm Ngọc Đức because of injuries.
However rising star Nguyễn Quang Hải is in top form and captain Gonzalo Damian Marronkle is back in action after an injury.
“Although the absence of these players does weaken us, our playing style will be maintained because I have my substitutes. We will try to control the match,” Nghiêm said.
The Vietnamese side, who lost to 2-3 to Hong Kong’s Kitchee in the AFC Champions League’s qualification round last month, reached the AFC Cup quarter-finals in 2014.
On the other side, coach Risto Vidakovic Savic of Ceres Negros praised Hà Nội’s young star Hải.
He said he saw five or six Hà Nội matches. The Vietnamese team had quality players but captain Marronkle and midfielder Hải were the star men.
The Serbian also said Hà Nội were on form in their domestic league while the Philippine season doesn’t start until April.
However Savic said it was not a major problem for his team. What was important was the spirit of players and he believed they would perform well.
Ceres Negros will bring 13 current or former national team players to Việt Nam.
The 2016 United Football League runners-up Ceres Negros reached the round of 16 last year but were eliminated after a 0-1 extra-time loss to South China.
The match will kick off at 6pm at Mỹ Đình National Stadium. It will be aired live on VTV6. — VNS