Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (pictured) will face Quảng Ninh Coal in the V.League 1 today. — Photo thethao247.vn
HÀ NỘI — After being postponed due to the fears surrounding the potential spread of the novel coronavirus, the V.League 1 will kick off today behind closed doors due to the virus, with the marquee fixture Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) against Than Quảng Ninh.
HAGL's coach Lee Tae-hoon said the home side were putting aside their focus on beautiful football and would instead be going for the jugular this season.
“HAGL have had a beautiful way of playing but it is too gentle. I won't stand for this because, in football, you can’t win with naïve play,” said South Korean coach Lee.
“In this new season our players will certainly play like warriors with a stronger spirit and mindset than any opponent in the league,” Lee added.
Despite having their strong nationwide support and stable of national team players like Lương Xuân Trường, Nguyễn Văn Toàn and Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, the Pleiku City-based side flirted with relegation last year before finishing eighth, while Quảng Ninh came third.
HAGL's porous defence was the main problem, with their 46 goals conceded more than every team bar Thanh Hoá, who finished second-from-bottom and only escaped relegation thanks to a play-off win.
Shoring up at the back was a focus for the South Korean coach in the off-season and led to the signings of Serbian defender Damir Memovic and Nigerian defensive midfielder Kelly Kester.
Though Quảng Ninh don’t have the same array of talent as HAGL, they are considered a strong team with a cohesive style of play under coach Phan Thanh Hùng.
The former national team coach has built a pragmatic way of playing by focusing on the collective rather than individual skill, a style that will be bolstered by the northern side having kept their squad relatively unchanged from last year, bar the major additions of forwards Jeremie Lynch and Andre Fagan on loan from Hai Phong.
The two Jamaican attackers will be supported by midfielders Nghiêm Xuân Tú, Nguyễn Hải Huy and Mạc Hồng Quân.
The game will kick off at Pleiku Stadium in Gia Lai Province at 5pm.
In today's other game, HCM City FC will travel to face Quảng Nam.
Saturday's only match sees defending champions Hà Nội FC host Nam Định, while on Sunday Hồng Lĩnh Hà Tĩnh take on Viettel, Becamex Bình Dương face SHB Đà Nẵng, Thanh Hóa play Hải Phòng and Sài Gòn face Sông Lam Nghệ An. — VNS