Vietnamese-Australian midfielder Martin Lo of Phố Hiến celebrates his goal during a match against Phù Đổng in the V.League 2 in May. — Photo nguoiduatin.vn
HÀ NỘI — Thanh Hóa and Phố Hiến FC will face off today for a spot in next season's V.League 1 at Vinh Stadium, Nghệ An Province.
Thanh Hóa finished second from bottom of the national premier league, while Phố Hiến came second in the V.League 2 to qualify for the play-off.
Though Thanh Hoá play at a higher level with experienced players, they are expected to have a tough time, particularly as play-off rules mean their foreign stars are ineligible for selection.
“It will be tough because I can only use local players,” said coach Mai Xuân Hợp, who has run the team for about two months.
Thanh Hoá, who depended much on their foreigners, have suffered 11 winless matches in a row, with nine defeats and two draws.
“The front line is always my worry and players’ heavy mind will be other challenge of the team. I have asked them to free their mind and be ready for the match,” said Hợp, who led Thanh Hoá’s U17 team to take the national championship in July.
Hợp worried about his front line but his defence is also poor.
While the team’s strikers could only muster 10 goals in their last 11 matches, they conceded 31 goals.
On the other side, Phố Hiến are in good form a year on from promotion to the second tier, where they used a 100 per cent Vietnamese squad.
Coach Hứa Hiển Vinh has 26 young players in his squad with an average age of 19.5. Among them, Nguyễn Xuân Nam scored 14 goals to become the V.League 2’s top scorer this season.
The team are also home of players who have been called to the national U22 squad such as strikers Phạm Đức Thông, Lê Ngọc Bảo, and midfielders Huỳnh Tiến Đạt, Nguyễn Trọng Long and Martin Lo.
The match will begin at 4pm and will be live aired on VTV6. If finishes in a draw after 90 minutes, a penalty shoot-out will be held. — VNS