Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Sông Lam Nghệ An (SLNA) have set their sights on one thing for the new season… survival.
Although they finished fourth in the national premiere league last year, the club lost the several key players including midfielders Quế Ngọc Hải, Phạm Mạnh Hùng and Ngô Xuân Toàn.
Coach Nguyễn Đức Thắng is being realistic and setting a modest target this time around.
Hải was captain of the national team competing in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 in which Việt Nam won the Cup after 10 years. He moved to Viettel FC, who won the National First Division Tournament and were promoted to V.League 1.
“Our strength is affected significantly due to losing key players,” said coach Thắng.
“Hải’s departure has left a hole in our defence, but such is football. Rich teams will recruit good players and poor teams will have to say good bye to their stars.
“SLNA lost many important footballers such as Ngô Hoàng Thịnh, Nguyễn Trọng Hoàng, Hoàng Văn Bình and Trần Phi Sơn in the last season but we didn’t lose the club’s character.
“We have young players from the youth set up. They are skillful enough to replace the veterans,” Thắng added.
Without key players, SLNA called on veterans including Trần Đình Đồng, Bình and Nguyễn Quang Tình to help the youngsters in the team.
“I want to build a strong SLNA based on a united collective way of playing, not based on any stars,” said Thắng.
“Our first target is to stay in the national top flight and then we think of the higher goal. As a coach, I always want my team to gain the best result and win. But our ability and finances are limited,” said Thắng.
“For defending champions Hà Nội FC, they have a very good force but they don’t dare to say they will be champions again,” Thắng added.
“In this race, no team wants to be in the low rankings so I will take it one step at a time. I will train my players to have spirit and desire. I hope my team will be together. This will make our rivals worried,” said Thắng.
SLNA will take on former champions Quảng Nam today at Tam Kỳ Stadium.
Meanwhile, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai are ready to face Sanna Khánh Hòa BVN at Nha Trang Stadium today.
The mountainous football team are without Lương Xuân Trường and Nguyễn Công Phượng who have both left on-loan.
The club hopes midfielders Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, Trần Minh Vương, Nguyễn Phong Hồng Duy and striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn will step up for the upcoming league season.
In the last season, HAGL only finished 10th with 31 points. In the National Cup, HAGL were knocked out in the quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, Hà Nội FC take on Quảng Ninh Coal, SHB Đà Nẵng meet Viettel, Nam Định play with Sài Gòn and HCM City face Hải Phòng. — VNS