Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — All eyes will be on the match between Long An and Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) in the seventh round of the V.League 1 on February 25 after Long An’s disgraceful behaviour in their last fixture.
Besides losing 5-2 to HCM City FC, Long An’s chairman, technical director, head coach, captain and goalkeeper have all been suspended from Vietnamese football by the Việt Nam Football Federation.
Long An’s players and some backroom staff protested a late penalty awarded to HCM City FC by leaving the pitch and then allowing the southern side to score three goals.
Long An’s newly-appointed chairman Nguyễn Môn said his team have lost their way.
However, to restore the image of the club, Long An’s leaders yesterday hired coach Nguyễn Minh Phương to replace 42-year-old Phan Văn Giàu who was temporary head coach of the team for only two days.
36-year-old Phương was previously technical director of Bình Phước in the national First Division.
Former national midfielder Phương is a familiar name with Long An fans. He helped Long An win the premier league in 2005 and 2006 under the guidance of coach Henrique Calisto.
“Long An are in difficult time, while Bình Phước are fine at present so I decided to leave. I wouldn’t have left if Bình Phước were in trouble. Bình Phước agreed with my decision as I want to challenge myself in a new environment,” said Phương.
Phương captained Việt Nam to a quarter-final run in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.
In 2010, Phương became the most-capped Vietnamese footballer in history with 73 caps, topping Lê Huỳnh Đức on 66 caps. After the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, he retired from international football after eight years playing for the national team.
After a successful playing career, Phương is determined to revive Long An’s fortunes.
“I have experienced a playing career and now it is time to test myself in coaching. Pressure comes with every job. I will try my best in my new position,” said Phương.
HAGL come into the match in good form, with victories in their last two matches against Cần Thơ and Bình Dương. They are eighth in the table, while Long An are at the bottom with a paltry four points.
However, HAGL’s manager Nguyễn Tấn Anh said his side need to maintain their focus as after heavy criticism, Long An could bounce back.
In other news, defending champions Hà Nội FC received a boost as key player Phạm Thành Lương has recovered from injury and is ready to face Bình Dương on February 26. Striker Hoàng Vũ Samson is also available after serving a two-match suspension.
With Lương and Samson’s return, coach Chu Đình Nghiêm is confident in his team. Lương won the Vietnamese golden ball award in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2016, while Samson is one of the team’s top strikers.
“Bình Dương are struggling but they are a quality team. It won’t be an easy game. With the advantage of playing at home, we hope to come out on top,” said Nghiêm.
Hà Nội won the league in 2010, 2013 and 2016, while Bình Dương took the title four times in 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2015.
After six rounds, Hà Nội rank third with 11 points, behind early pacesetters FLC Thanh Hóa by three points. Bình Dương are in 10th place with six points.
Elsewhere this weekend, HCM City face Cần Thơ, Quảng Nam meet Thanh Hóa, Sông Lam Nghệ An battle SHB Đà Nẵng and Quảng Ninh Coal take on Sài Gòn FC. — VNS