|Back to winning ways: Hai Phong players celebrate after scoring a goal during a match against Song Lam Nghe An in the first round match of the Toyota V.League 1. They beat Quang Ninh in the second around and will play Sanna Khanh Hoa today. — Photo news.zdn.vn
HA NOI (VNS)— Even though it was considered the underdog this season, LG Hai Phong have emerged strong with two victories in the first two rounds of the Toyota V.League 1.
The second-ranked team will play Sanna Khanh Hoa today in the third round and could replace Becamex Binh Duong if the leader fail to defeat visitors SHB Da Nang at the Go Dau Stadium.
Under the leadership of its new coach Truong Viet Hoang, Hai Phong have returned to top form with a bang after knocking out former champions Song Lam Nghe An 3-0 in the first round and continued to win in the second round by beating rising star Quang Ninh Coal 2-0.
"We made it thanks to the people who hurt my players' pride," said Hoang.
"They said Hai Phong are a weak team, a candidate for relegation, so my players tried their best to prove their capability. We want people to respect us," Hoang said.
However, the 39-year-old coach said it was difficult to talk about the team's final fate, as there was still a long way to go in the tournament, but the team being ahead by six points after two matches was much more than he expected.
"It is still surprising for us that Hai Phong overcame so many difficulties – shortage of cash, no quality player and lack of support from home fans – prior to the tournament, while I too experienced a lot of hardship as a manager," the coach, who is the youngest in the V.League, revealed.
Hoang is happy, but a little worried for the next game against freshmen Khanh Hoa.
"Two wins make me glad, but I am still nervous. These wins could make my players subjective. I need them to focus on every game," Hoang said.
Khanh Hoa, on the other hand, have many young players, who hope to stay in the V.League 1 after struggling to get promotion last year.
The team suffered a humiliating loss of 2-4 against Hoang Anh Gia Lai in their debut match.
However, they regained their confidence after a 2-1 win last week, beating Dong Nai on their home turf.
With three points, the coastal squad are ranked seventh among 14 participants.
A win over Khanh Hoa will help Hai Phong top the table in case Becamex Binh Duong fail to overcome challenging rival SHB Da Nang today.
The Binh Duong have proved their power through two wins with 10 goals. The defending champions easily crushed their rivals without using their best scorer Le Cong Vinh.
Da Nang grabbed unexpected fails and were at the second-to-bottom place of the table, but the two-time champions' coach Le Huynh Duc has decided to make some changes for better results.
"We have encountered some difficulties and want to make it better although it is not easy. Da Nang may suffer more losses, but we had already forecast that. Nonetheless, we will change and build up stability for the rest of the tournament," Duc said.
Other matches in the third round will be Hoang Anh Gia Lai vs Thanh Hoa, Ha Noi T&T vs Quang Nam, Dong Tam Long An vs Song Lam Nghe An, as well as the clashes between Can Tho and Quang Ninh and Dong Thap vs Dong Nai. — VNS