|Fight for survival: Dong Thap players surround Hai Phong's captain Minh Chau (right) during their clash last week. Dong Thap will play Hoang Anh Gia Lai this weekend. — VNS Photo Tuan Tu
HA NOI (VNS) — Dong Thap seek a win today to avoid relegation in a match with Hoang Anh Gia Lai in Toyota V.League 1's 21st round at Cao Lanh Stadium in the southern province of Dong Thap.
Dong Thap rank 11th out of 14 teams with 20 points in the ranking table, while HAGL are at the bottom with 14 points.
"This match is very important to Dong Thap, who are at risk of being relegated to the lower event," said Dong Thap defender Nguyen Thanh Hien. "We will make every effort to get three points."
According to Hien, Dong Thap must to beat visitors HAGL on their home turf. Only three of their remaining six matches will be played at home, so they must take full advantage of these chances. In the other two matches played at Cao Lanh Stadium, Dong Thap could hardly defeat Da Nang and Binh Duong.
"I believe Dong Thap will crush HAGL, with the support of their thousands of fans," Hien added.
Meanwhile, HAGL are determined to get one point in the match.
In other news, Quang Ninh Coal will face Hai Phong today without their key player, captain Vu Minh Tuan.
Tuan hasn't recovered from his ankle injury which resulted in his absence from the match with FLC Thanh Hoa last week. He has scored six goals this season for Quang Ninh.
With the guidance of newly appointed coach Pham Nhu Thuan, Quang Ninh are expected to win the match. Thuan, a former national team player, changed his new team's nutrition regulations and tactics.
"Thuan has brought the team a new and modern way of playing," said midfielder Dao Nhat Minh. "It helps the team train more actively."
However, Quang Ninh are facing a difficult task. After 20 matches the team have gotten 30 points, putting them at seventh out of 14 teams. Hai Phong have 36 points and rank third.
FLC Thanh Hoa, on the other hand, are reaching for the national premier league trophy for the first time. They rank second with 40 points, behind defending champion Binh Duong with 41 points. Tomorrow they hope to gain more points when they face Dong Nai, which ranks second-to-last.
However, according to coach Hoang Thanh Tung, Thanh Hoa merely hope to rank in the top three.
"That is a reasonable goal, because the team are in a period of change and using many young players," Tung said. "But it would be wonderful if Thanh Hoa won this year. Binh Duong are very strong and have potential. I think that it would be a great surprise if Binh Duong didn't take the title."
Elsewhere, Ha Noi T&T meet Binh Duong, Can Tho face Khanh Hoa, Song Lam Nghe An face Quang Nam, and Da Nang face Dong Tam Long An.
Japanese referee to adjudicate V.League 1
Referee Takuto Okabe has been invited to supervise a match of V.League 1's round 21 this weekend.
The Japanese referee will adjudicate the game between defending champions Becamex Binh Duong and former winners Ha Noi T&T tomorrow.
The Viet Nam Football Federation's referee department said the last six rounds would see tight competition between teams that were competing for the title as well as those trying to avoid relegation.
The presence of foreign referees will ensure a fair and meticulously organised match.
Okabe is one of the three foreign referees working during this period. Okabe, 34, received his FIFA certificate early this year.
He has adjudicated matches in Japan, Australia and China.
Two others referees are expected to come from Thailand and Singapore. — VNS