Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội FC are facing challenges head of their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League’s Preliminary Stage 2 match against Hong Kong’s Kitchee FC today.
The V. League champions will miss the services of ‘architect’ Phạm Thành Lương who suffered an injury in the domestic match on Sunday. He scored a goal in Hà Nội’s 3-1 win over HCM City before he was hit by pain. The Việt Nam’s 2016 Golden Ball holder cancelled his flight at the last minute.
Their key striker Hoàng Vũ Samson has to handle his physique problem. He arrived in Hong Kong with the team but doctors said the two-time V. League top scorer was over-worked and his chances at playing were doubtful. The Nigeria-born striker has netted four goals in his first four appearances of the 2017 season.
Hà Nội’s new contract Oloya Moses has not played for his club for even a second as he is on duty with his Uganda team who are competing in the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
Another foreigner, Loris Arnaud, asked for leave to return France because of some family issues.
The Vietnamese representative also had a problem with their flight which was delayed for several hours because of overloaded schedules near the Lunar New Year.
They spent about a day to reach Hong Kong’s Courtyard Marriot yesterday and had to cancel one of their two practices.
In this match, Kitchee will know Samson’s strike partner Gonzalo Marronkle only too well as it was the Argentine who scored the only goal in last year’s AFC Champions League Preliminary Stage 2 clash between the two sides. Young Vietnamese midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải, 19, has also started the new season well having scored three goals in four games.
“Last year, we beat Kitchee 1-0 in the same tournament. At that time we were equal in strength but this year the hosts are well prepared for the tournament adding qualified players in line-up. So this will be a tough game but we will play our best,” coach Chu Đình Nghiêm of Hà Nội said.
Kitchee earlier signed a contract with former Hungarian national team midfielder Krisztian Vadocz.
Vadocz, 31, has played for European clubs such as Osasuna, Grasshoppers and Alaves.
The team also have midfielder Kim Dong-jin, who won a UEFA Cup with Zenit St Petersburg.
Kitchee’s player to watch is midfielder Huang Yang who joined the team in 2011-12 season.
He has consistently been among the first names on the team sheet for Kitchee, chalking up more minutes played than any other Kitchee outfielder over the last six seasons.
The 33-year-old former Hong Kong Footballer of the Year may not be much of a goal-threat due to his role as a defensive midfielder, but his work-rate and consistency for Kitchee are a major force behind the club’s success.
Huang is complimented by captain Lo Kwan-yee, another ever-present player at club-level and for the Hong Kong representative side, while naturalised international striker Alex Akande, club’s leading scorer with seven league goals, could be an inspired addition.
This is Kitchee’s third time participating in the League.
Meanwhile Hà Nội have reached the play-off stage twice in their previous three times.
The match will be played at 9pm local time with the winners travelling to play Ulsan Hyundai in the play-off stage next month. — VNS