|Coach Nguyễn Minh Phương of Long An discuses with his midfielder Phan Tấn Tài during a V.League match. Long An will play Quảng Ninh Coal in the V.League’s 16th round on Sunday. — Photo performgroup.com
HÀ NỘI — Coach Nguyễn Minh Phương and his Long An FC were close to grabbing their first win in 10 matches but ended up losing 2-3 to Hải Phòng on Wednesday.
Long An led the match 2-0 in the first 75 minutes.
After the match, they also lost their No 1 goalkeeper Nguyễn Huỳnh Quốc Cường, who got a three-match ban for indulging in violence.
This weekend, they will visit Quảng Ninh Coal, where another loss would result in their relegation.
After 15 rounds, Long An have only five points from one win and two draws. They are sitting at the bottom of the table. Their nearest rival to beat is Cần Thơ, who have six points more than them. Eleven more rounds remain to be played in the national premier league.
Phương, the former national midfielder, tried his best to change the situation. In the last day before the close of the transferring period, he signed a contract with striker Teofilo Soares Eydison, who is expected to improve the quality of the front line.
Eydison lost his job at SHB Đà Nẵng, as they felt he was not strong enough, although he had good speed and had scored three goals.
The Brazilian player won the trust of Long An’s managers, and he will pair with Wander Luiz to score for the new club.
In the first-leg match, Long An lost 1-2 to Quảng Ninh, although they played at home on April 9.
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai are faced with big trouble, as their key defender A Hoàng is injured and cannot play the upcoming match against hosts FLC Thanh Hóa.
Hoàng also lost his place in the national U22 team, who are training to prepare for the Asian U23 Championship qualification.
Hoàng sustained a knee injury after a clash with midfielder Nguyễn Văn Quân of Cần Thơ in the round-15 match on Wednesday, which saw Hoàng Anh Gia Lai lose 0-3. Doctors said he would need to rest for up to three months. It means he may miss his chance to compete in the Southeast Asian Games in August in Malaysia.
The other problem for the team is that their supporters are asking for head coach Nguyễn Quốc Tuấn to be sacked, because of the poor performance of the team that placed them at the No 10 spot among 14 teams.
However, team President Đoàn Nguyên Đức is standing by the coach.
“Who said that? Why should we change? There will be no change in the post of the head coach, and I don’t care about that,” he said.
It is not the first time Tuấn is under the line of fire. He was asked to step down earlier this season, but he was saved as Đức supported him.
In the upcoming match, Thanh Hóa will be strong rivals. The hosts are on top of the ranking and have been undefeated for five matches in a row, which includes the 3-2 victory over Hoàng Anh Gia Lai on April 8.
Coach Lê Huỳnh Đức of SHB Đà Nẵng said his team was in a difficult situation in its race for the league trophy.
After a 2-2 draw on Wednesday against Hà Nội FC, Đức said: “We are not in a favourite place anymore. It can be seen from our points in the ranking.”
With 19 points, SHB Đà Nẵng are No 8 in the rankings. They have 11 points less than Thanh Hóa, who are leading.
“It seems that our possible target now should be to earn maximum points from each match, and take our chance when it comes,” he said.
“In the second leg, I welcome back my key players such as Đỗ Merlo, Võ Huy Toàn and Bùi Tiến Dụng. They are important puzzles to make the perfect line-up. It is a little late, but now I have the strongest crew. The route is long, so we still have hope,” said the former national best striker.
Apart from those members, SHB Đà Nẵng welcomed new member Gramoz Kurtaj. The 26-year-old midfielder used to play in Scotland under Hamilton Academical FC jersey. He scored a goal for his team in a 1-2 loss to Celtic last season.
Kurtaj, 1.83m, a German and Kosovo citizen, cost 250,000 euros (US$285,000), according to transfermarkt.com.
SHB Đà Nẵng will play former winner Becamex Bình Dương at the away Gò Đậu Stadium. The two teams are also rivals in the National Cup’s semi-final in October.
Sông Lam Nghệ An also have a new member after their deal with striker Danko Kovacevic, a former U19 member of Montenegro.
Kovacevic played for Iskra Danilovgrad, where he scored 16 goals before moving to Việt Nam.
The team arrived in HCM City yesterday and will play hosts HCM City FC, who are said to be a much stronger team after acquiring billions of đồng worth foreign striker Da Sylva.
Football expert Đoàn Minh Xương said he was surprised with the team’s performance in the 0-0 draw versus Thanh Hóa on Wednesday.
“HCM City played at the same level as Thanh Hóa, although they are new to the league this season. In some moments, they created opportunities, and if they had been lucky, they would have won the match,” said Xương.
“I believe that their outstanding match is due to their new acquisitions, including Da Sylva who cost VNĐ9 billion ($396,000).”
Despite a ban by the Việt Nam Football Federation stopping Hải Phòng fans from entering other team’s stadiums following a fire at their stadium on Wednesday, a group of 50 supporters will take a coach to travel to Cần Thơ this Sunday.
They will be joined by hundreds of city’s fellows with flag and banners to encourage their club against hosts Cần Thơ.
Elsewhere, defending champions Hà Nội FC will play Sanna Khánh Hòa at Hàng Đẫy Stadium, and Sài Gòn FC who are expecting to get a berth in the top three will visit Quảng Nam. — VNS