Thanh Hóa vs SLNA in the first leg of V.League 1. The two teams will meet again in the second leg on Friday. — Photo vietlong.org
HÀ NỘI — Thanh Hóa take on Sông Lam Nghệ An (SLNA) in the V.League 1 today, knowing a win could vault them to third in the table.
With the game to be held at Thanh Hóa Stadium, the home side will feel confident about avenging their 1-0 reverse to SLNA earlier in the season at Vinh Stadium.
The two sides are neck and neck in the table, with SLNA fourth on 22 points and Thanh Hóa one spot and one point behind them.
The home side have been buoyed by new coach Vũ Quang Bảo, who replaced Nguyễn Đức Thắng earlier this month after the latter fell out with the chairman.
The former Military Region 4 coach has adapted quickly and led his new team past Khánh Hòa 3-1 last Sunday.
With a new coach and several key players returning to the fold, Thanh Hóa have been tipped as favourites for this fixture.
Jamaican striker Rimario Gordon returns after a one-game suspension, midfielder Nguyễn Thế Dương is in good form after two months of injury, while new recruit Errol Anthony Stevens of Jamaica is keen to make his mark after debuting against Khánh Hòa.
The 33-year-old Jamaican striker arrived in Việt Nam in 2015 and played for the northern port city team of Hải Phòng for four years and scored 42 goals, before his acrimonious departure for which the northern port side had to pay him a compensation of US$200,000, as ruled by FIFA.
Meanwhile, SLNA are in poor form, having draw their last match against SHB Đà Nẵng.
Their new Brazilian striker Joel Vinicius, signed from HCM City FC, has yet to bed in, key player Phan Văn Đức hasn’t recovered from injury and captain Hồ Khắc Ngọc is in poor form.
“At this time, Thanh Hóa are a hard rival and not easy to beat. They have stronger form with undefeated matches. We meet difficulties and we only want a draw for the upcoming game. The striker pair Gordon – Stevens of Thanh Hóa will be very dangerous and we will try our best to limit them,” said coach Nguyễn Đức Thắng of SLNA.
Elsewhere, Nam Định will face Viettel, former champions Quảng Nam take on Sài Gòn and HCM City take on Becamex Bình Dương.
On Saturday, SHB Đà Nẵng will play Hải Phòng, Quảng Ninh meet Hoàng Anh Gia Lai and league leaders Hà Nội FC face Khánh Hòa. — VNS