Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — FLC Thanh Hóa will play Becamex Bình Dương this weekend under acting coach Hoàng Thanh Tùng, after their Romanian manager, Marian Mihail, resigned.
Thanh Hóa ended their run at the AFC Cup tournament and are now focussing on local leagues, especially the V.League, which have tried but failed to win over four previous seasons.
“The first leg of the season is always difficult. If you cannot achieve good results, it will be hard to compete against other teams in the second leg. We need a step-by-step plan for our team,” Tùng said.
He added that the pressure on the team and the coach is always considerable after suffering defeats. Therefore, a win against Bình Dương is essential if Thanh Hóa want to narrow the gap with title contenders, such as Quảng Ninh Coal and Hà Nội FC.
Thanh Hóa are now seventh in the league with six points after four rounds, while Bình Dương are a point behind in eight. A win will improve Thanh Hóa’s position, but if they lose, Bình Dương will overtake them.
Hà Nội will visit SHB Đà Nẵng at their fortress, the Hòa Xuân Stadium, where the hosts rarely lose.
Prior to the match, coach Chu Đình Nghiêm carefully prepared his team to extend their unbeaten run and maintain their leading position in the league.
He rested some of his key players during their National Cup match, to ensure their peak performance for their next V.League match.
Hà Nội, with three wins and one draw, recently achieved their best ever start to the league.
However, in today’s match, key players Đỗ Duy Mạnh and Trần Đình Trọng may not play, due to injuries suffered last week, while the talented U23 midfielder, Nguyễn Quang Hải, has not performed at his best since the start of the season.
The hosts have impressive since the start of the season by reaching fourth place in the league, three points behind Hà Nội. A win against the visitors will reduce this gap.
Midfielder Võ Huy Toàn of SHB Đà Nẵng warned his teammates about the dangers posed by the young star, Hải.
“Hà Nội are a strong team who play together well. Hải is also a dangerous player with great technique and who can turn matches,” Toàn said.
“He can create something out of nothing with his left foot. We must keep an eye on him and stop him,” he added.
However, the former national team player affirmed his team’s determination to beat Hà Nội, and believes in the ability of striker Đỗ Merlo, who recently became a naturalised Vietnamese.
Merlo has been playing football for many years and joined Đà Nẵng in 2009, except for a year off in 2015 to recover from injury. He has also scored over 100 goals and won the league’s Top Scorer Award and Best Foreign Player Award for three consecutive years, from 2009 to 2011.
The match against hosts Sài Gòn FC will be a major challenge for Hoàng Anh Gia Lai, who are short of players, due to injuries and suspensions.
Midfielder Châu Ngọc Quang must rest for at least four weeks because of a ligament injury, while defender A Hoàng is suffering from back pain and winger Lê Đức Lương has a groin injury.
Their defender, Nguyễn Tăng Tiến, was suspended until the end of the first leg by both the Việt Nam Football Federation and his club, due to his violent conduct during a match last week.
However, their rivals have not won a match this season and are second from bottom. Their captain, Nguyễn Ngọc Duy, and goalkeeper Tống Đức An will be on the bench due to injuries, while defender Nguyễn Quốc Long is banned for two matches.
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai have won two games, drawn two and lost one in their last five matches.
In the league’s other matches, HCM City FC will visit Nam Định, Cần Thơ will host former champions Sông Lam Nghệ An, and Hải Phòng will entertain Quảng Nam. — VNS