Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — FLC Thanh Hóa and Hà Nội FC will fight for the V.League top spot when they play late matches of round 11 today.
The top two teams both have 23 points, but Hà Nội is on top due to goal differences.
While Hà Nội has to play on away ground against Cần Thơ FC, Thanh Hóa, at the second position, is at home to welcome Quảng Ninh Coal.
Thanh Hóa was eliminated from the National Cup after losing 1-5 to SHB Đà Nẵng last week. In an attempt to gain the No 1 spot, Thanh Hóa signed a contract with striker Lê Văn Thắng from Hải Phòng FC. Thắng has been one of the best local scorers in the last two seasons.
Talented midfielder Ngô Hoàng Thịnh is ready for competition, after his injury.
Thanh Hóa also has tested Edin Junuzovic, a 1.88m striker whose transfer fee is said to be up to 500.000 euros (US$538,000) by transfermarkt.com, although they have already signed Uche Iheruomeand Pape Omar, who is in good form this season with 13 goals.
The Croatian has competed in countries, such as Slovakia, Russia and South Korea. He was transferred from Slovakian Rudar Velenje FC to Russian Amkar Perm FC for 1.3 million euros. During his career, Junuzovic has scored 130 goals for 12 clubs.
The only unexpected absence from the team is midfielder Mai Tiến Thành, who has been sidelined because of a red card.
With his nearly perfect lineup, coach Ljubomir Petrovic is set to win three points.
The Serbian described the recent loss at the National Cup as a shame. The coaching board and players must take responsibility for that. However, it was also a valuable experience for the team. Thanh Hóa must focus and score three points in the coming match so they could vie for the top position against Hà Nội.
Thanh Hóa has the home advantage, but rival Quảng Ninh remains much tougher than Cần Thơ. Quảng Ninh is now at No 5. They have 20 points, which is only three points or one win less than the leading teams, and are threatening the top three.
Coach Phan Thanh Hùng and his Quảng Ninh FC have also targeted a championship trophy this season.
Under Hùng, who has tasted V.League victory twice, Quảng Ninh has been transformed into a different team that has created challenges for all rivals this season, including former champions Sông Lam Nghệ An and Becamex Bình Dương.
Hùng has been impressed, and added Brasilian midfielder Marcus Vinicius Lima da Silva to the team.
The 27-year-old grew up in Aletico Paranaense, a well known football academy in his home country. He has shown good speed and can read matches well.
Coach Chu Đình Nghiêm of Hà Nội is now only focusing on the national premier league, after they were ousted from the National Cup last week and the Asian Cup last month.
In today’s match, Nghiêm will welcome back sharp goal hunter Gonzalo Damian Marronkle, who has rested for months because of an injury.
The defending champions have made no move to strengthen their team during the season’s break. However, their current squad is considered much stronger than Cần Thơ, who ranks second from the bottom with only seven points after 12 matches.
In the past four rounds, Hà Nội won three and drew one, while Cần Thơ had two draws and two losses.
After these two late matches, V.League teams have short breaks, during which players will join the national team for the Asian Cup qualification on June 13. Matches will be resumed on June 24. — VNS