The Local Game: Magic of the cup? Not so much

April 04, 2023 - 08:24
Sadly the magic of the cup is far from alive in many football leagues across the world, and Việt Nam is no exception.


Vũ Tiến Thành cuts a beleaguered figure on HCM City FC's sideline. Photo

Peter Cowan

Sadly the magic of the cup is far from alive in many football leagues across the world, and Việt Nam is no exception.

The National Cup qualifying round was held over the weekend but you could be forgiven for not noticing.

Promotion of the knockout competition was hard to come by online and in person from clubs and the Việt Nam Professional Football (VPF) organisation.

Consequently, attendances at the matches over the weekend were sparse, to say the least.

This is a real shame, as there’s nothing better in football than seeing an underdog take the scalp of a much better resourced team, so when it happens it should send reverberations across the local football scene.

Three V.League 2 teams knocked out top tier opponents over the weekend but those giant killings barely measured on the Richter scale due to how little fan and media interest seems to be devoted to the cup.

One coach whose side were unceremoniously dumped out of the contest on Friday had plenty of gripes in his post-match interview, some of which I sympathise with, others which I have less time for.

Vũ Tiến Thành’s HCM City FC were defeated on penalties by Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu FC, a particularly embarrassing loss as the latter acts very much as a feeder club for City.

HCM City are strong relegation candidates this year as they are noticeably short of quality across the pitch, so perhaps Thành won’t be that upset to no longer have cup fixtures to worry about.

He did, however, lambast the VPF for failing to drum up any kind of atmosphere or excitement around the cup, comparing it to a ward-level football tournament, according to

Thành has received a warning from the VPF for his comments which for my money indicates he probably has a good point.

I’m less convinced with his gripes about not being allowed to use foreign players in the National Cup.

When a V.League 1 side meets a lower division team in the cup, the former can’t use their import players, ostensibly as V.League 2 sides can’t sign foreign players.

Thành complained that this meant preparing for the cup difficult as it is totally different for gearing up for a league game with a full complement of stars.

I say if he has so little faith in his ability to coach up his local players to defeat a team that, in theory at least, has a lot less talent than his boys, then the cup is the least of his concerns. VNS