Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Sông Lam Nghệ An will put their trust on young players in the Group H match against Johor Darul Ta’zim at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup in Malaysia today.
Sixteen players will represent Việt Nam in the match in Johor Bahru. Veteran players such as Ngọc Toàn, Quế Ngọc Hải, Thế Cường and goalkeeper Nguyên Mạnh will not compete due to injuries. Foreign striker Olaha Michael is rested at home while national U23 star Phạm Xuân Mạnh has been sidelined because of two yellow cards.
This leaves young players such as Hồ Tuấn Tài and Phan Văn Đức to take charge.
In Group H, Sông Lam Nghệ An rank second with as many as 10 points as leader Persija Jakarta of Indonesia who have better goal difference.
To ensure their berth in the knockout stage, Sông Lam Nghệ An must win today against Johor Darul Ta’zim.
“We do not have key players for the match, but Sông Lam Nghệ An will give their best,” coach assistant Nguyễn Huy Hoàng said at a press briefing yesterday.
The former V.League champions have not shown impressive performance in the local leagues. Although they have won four matches in a row, their scoring skills and defence are not up to the mark. In the last six matches, they netted seven times while also missing seven goals.
In the AFC Cup, Sông Lam Nghệ An made 54 finishes, but only 22 were on target of which six converted into goals.
On the home front, Johor Darul Ta’zim are in third place and still have the chance to go to the next round as the best runner-up if they beat the Vietnamese team with at least four goals or more.
Forward Syafiq Ahmad said his team would fight till the end to ensure victory.
“This is one of our main games this season, and we are eager to put up a resounding performance to qualify for the knockout stage,” Ahmad was quoted by FOX Sports Asia.
“We have been training hard for this. We haven’t had much rest after the Pahang game, but our mental strength will overcome tired legs,” he said.
He acknowledged that Sông Lam Nghệ An were a physical side with tall and well-built players. But Johor Darul Ta’zim will not be intimidated, he said, adding that the key was to clinch the game from the start and score an early goal.
In their local tournaments, Johor Darul Ta’zim were disqualified from the FA Cup but are on top of the Super League.
In the latter event, they recorded two wins, two losses and one draw recently.
In the AFC Cup’s first-leg match of the two teams on February 28, Sông Lam Nghệ An won 2-0 with goals by Đức and Mạnh.
The match against Johor Darul Ta’zim will start from 7pm Hà Nội time and will be aired live on Fox Sports. — VNS