The Local Game: 4 bold predictions for the V.League 1’s return

February, 22/2022 - 09:10

On Friday, a full 299 days since the last match of the abandoned 2021 season, the V.League 1 returns. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and despite the myriad faults with how local football is run, the prospect of some balls being kicked in anger is still an exciting one.

 

After almost 300 days, the V.League 1 returns on Friday evening. Photo 24h.com.vn

Peter Cowan

On Friday, a full 299 days since the last match of the abandoned 2021 season, the V.League 1 returns.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and despite the myriad faults with how local football is run, the prospect of some balls being kicked in anger is still an exciting one.

And what better way to celebrate the return of the V.League 1 than by making a fool of myself with some bold predictions?

Every fixture will be completed

If past performance was an indicator of future results, there would be no chance of completing an entire season.

After all, Việt Nam seems to be setting COVID-19 case records every day and these days it feels every person I speak to here in Hà Nội has either had the virus or is a close contact.

Back when the 2021 season was scrapped, Việt Nam had recorded just over 3,000 cases in total, now we’re seeing more than 40,000 in a day.

But times and attitudes have changed, which is why I have full confidence if the season kicks off as scheduled on Friday, every fixture of the 2022 season will be completed.

Hà Nội FC will have three different coaches

The season hasn’t even started and Hà Nội FC are making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Just about a week from the start of the season, the club parted ways with coach Park Choong-kyun.

The club only appointed the South Korean in April of last year so he only took charge of the team for a handful of fixtures, so his return to South Korea for “personal reasons” accord to the Hà Nội FC website came as a big surprise.

Despite having a glittering array of national team stars, cash to burn and a more professional set up than most Vietnamese teams, it feels like Hà Nội have been in disarray for the last few years.

Interim coach Chun Jae-ho is in the hotseat for now, but I have a sneaky suspicion the Korean won’t be the last man to be in the home dugout at Hàng Đẫy Stadium this year, as the turmoil in the capital continues.

Topenland Bình Định to mount a title challenge

Maybe this prediction is less bold than the others, but I do want to get at least one right!

Topenland Bình Định have snapped up several national team stars as well as several experience V.League campaigners, setting the men from Quy Nhơn up with one of the best squads in the league.

They’ve come a long way since winning promotion in 2020 (largely due to cash injections) and I think they have a real shot to take the title this year.

A Vietnamese player to finish as top scorer

Nguyễn Anh Đức was the last Vietnamese national to finish the season as the V.League 1’s top scorer, but I think the five-year wait for a local sharpshooter to take the crown is about to end.

When the season was scrapped last year, three Vietnamese players were among the top eight goal-getters and there’s no reason to think they can’t improve on that feat.

Whether it’s Nguyễn Văn Toàn, Nguyễn Công Phượng or Nguyễn Tiến Linh, expect to see a Vietnamese name atop the pile come the season’s end. VNS

E-paper