Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI —The second half of the national premier league season begins today after nearly two months of rest, with matches between Thanh Hóa and SHB Đà Nẵng at the Thanh Hóa Stadium ,and Hà Nội FC vs Hải Phòng at the Mỹ Đình National Stadium the highlights.
Thanh Hóa top the table with 26 points after 13 matches, while Hà Nội are second with 24 points. Khánh Hòa and Hải Phòng are third and fourth with 23 and 22 points, respectively.
Thanh Hóa’s opponents Đà Nẵng are in eighth place and hoping to jump up the standings with an upset.
Đà Nẵng last won the league in 2012 and were runners-up in 2013.
They defeated Thanh Hóa in the quarter-finals of the National Cup, giving them hope for the coming match.
Naturalised Argentinean striker Đỗ Merlo is the central city side’s top player, having scored five goals in three matches in the National Cup.
Merlo has scored 92 goals between 2008 and 2016 for Đà Nẵng. Last season, his 24 goals in the domestic league helped the team finish third and he won the top scorer and best player awards.
Meanwhile, the hosts Thanh Hóa have signed national striker Lê Văn Thắng of Hải Phòng for the second half of the season.
Thắng, Pape Omar Feye and Uche Iheruome are Thanh Hóa’s key players.
The match at the Mỹ Đình Stadium is also crucial.
Hải Phòng will have the support of some 1,000 fans at the match, who are expected to parade around Hà Nội before coming to the stadium.
Both Hà Nội and Hải Phòng are challenging for this year’s title as they are second and fourth in the table.
At the Vinh Stadium, Sông Lam Nghệ An (SLNA) will face Quảng Ninh Coal. SLNA thrashed HCM City FC 7-1 in the National Cup to highlight their first half of the season, while Quảng Ninh were ousted by Đà Nẵng.
Elsewhere, bottom-placed Long An meet HCM City.
Long An have made moves aiming to stave off relegation, signing national U20 midfielder Lương Hoàng Nam from Hoàng Anh Gia Lai on loan.
The club have also said goodbye to foreign players Oseni Bolaji and Ash Apollon to recruit Sim Woon Sub from South Korea who used to play for Ninh Bình and Đồng Tâm Long An, and Wander Luiz from Brazil.
“The time is short, we must quickly prepare for the match with HCM City,” said coach Nguyễn Minh Phương, former captain of Việt Nam’s national team.
HCM City are also struggling in ninth position with 15 points, better than Long An 10 points. — VNS