|Hoàng Anh Gia Lai players train ahead of the National Cup match against Sài Gòn which will be held on September 7 in Pleiku City. Photo of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai FC|
HÀ NỘI — Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) will play Sài Gòn for the second time in a week when they meet in the National Cup's quarter-final match today at their home ground in Pleiku city.
The national premier league will pause this week for the National Cup activities.
In the V.League 1 match on September 3, two sides ended 1-1 also at the Pleiku Stadium. Lê Văn Sơn opened the scoring for the hosts in the 72nd minute and Đỗ Merlo levelled for the visitors in added time.
The result prevented both teams from reaching their target as HAGL are chasing the top three while Sài Gòn struggling to escape from the bottom of the league.
Coach Kiatisuk Senamuang decided to hold an open door training session to allow supporters to watch his players practice yesterday.
The Thai manager wanted his team relaxed and comfortable ahead of the match after suffering disappointing results of one draw and two defeats recently.
“Hoàng Anh Gia Lai have not scored a goal in the first half in five matches. But, you know, there are 90 minutes in a game," said Senamuang.
"For the National Cup, I will review my players, look at introducing young players, check the progress of those injured and all team's fitness. Based on these statistics, I will decide to put young players on the field."
Coach Phùng Thanh Phương said although Sài Gòn were in difficult situation the team would save every small chance to get a single point.
“We have to try hard in all matches and want to win in both V.League 1 and National Cup. We believe that our strong efforts will make our goal come true,” he said.
The second quater-final match is between Đông A Thanh Hóa and Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu at the Thanh Hóa Stadium.
The hosts are considered stronger as they are playing in the V.League and they will compete at home.
Their disadvantage is the absence of head coach Ljupko Petrovic taking a break due to health problems.
However, Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu are in good shape with two wins, two draws and one loss in the last five games in the V.League 2. They are in fourth place, only one point off the top three.
Admission to the match is free.
On September 8, defending champions Hà Nội FC should have an easy match against Bình Phước although they have to play away from home.
While Hà Nội are in top place and racing to win the V.League 1 title, Bình Phước, making a surprise with their slot in the National Cup's quarter-final, are at the bottom of the V.League 2.
Meanwhile high-flying Topperland Bình Định will travel to the capital to face Viettel FC.
Bình Định were high in spirits after they defeated Hà Nội FC 3-0 last week to jump to second place in the V.League 1.
Fourth-placed Viettel suffered a loss last week that ended their winning streak and saw them drop out of the top three.
In the coming match, they will be supported by home fans and hope to repeat their 2-0 win against Bình Định in their last meet in February. VNS