Friday, August 14 2020

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Injury crisis hobbles Hà Nôi FC

Update: July, 08/2020 - 08:01

 

STRUGGLING: Hà Nội FC's Trần Văn Kiên on the ball against Viettel in the V.League 1 on Sunday. Photo courtesy of VPF

 Peter Cowan

 

HÀ NỘI -- After an all-conquering, triple-winning 2019 season, Hà Nôi FC’s title defence is in tatters.

The V.League 1 champions have taken eight points from a possible 18 since the restart of local football after the coronavirus-induced suspension of play and worse still, in June they lost twice in a row at home at Hàng Đẫy Stadium, after having not lost at home in the league since 2017.

The capital side find themselves in eighth position in the table on 11 points, making them just as close to bottom side Nam Định as they are to league leaders Sài Gòn FC.

After being tipped by many (including this newspaper) to repeat their title success, what exactly has gone wrong for Hà Nội?

Injury crisis

Injuries are a problem every team has to deal with, but it’s fair to say Hà Nội have been particularly snake-bitten this season.

Vietnamese national team stars Trần Đình Trọng, Đỗ Duy Mạnh and Nguyễn Quang Hải are all sidelined with varyingly severe injuries, while the team’s top striker Pape Omar Faye is also crocked.

The injury crisis has forced coach Chu Đình Nghiêm to call up several members of the club's underage squads, with the defence particularly inexperienced.

After the 1-1 draw with capital rivals Viettel on Sunday, Nghiêm lamented that he was down to only 13 fully-fit players, with three of them goalkeepers.

"We registered 28 V.League players but now there are not enough people to register for substitutes.

“We have only 13 perfectly healthy players (including three goalkeepers), but in the other cases, many players have some degree of injury.

“In that situation, one point against a strong opponent like Viettel is acceptable,” he said according to vov.vn.

Longtime Hà Nôi FC fan and the man the BBC called a Vietnamese football expert Bill George agrees with Nghiêm’s assessment.

“It’s meaning quite a lot of the younger players in the squad are getting a chance to play which is great, but three of the back four are not regular starters,” he told Việt Nam News.

George also noted that Hà Nôi have struggled to adapt their tactics to playing without creative forces like Quang Hải and Faye and have persisted with a short passing game, without the players to run it effectively.

“Against Sài Gòn they were lacking creativity and there’s no ‘Plan B’, they just keep trying to play the same pass it around and there was nothing else, all Sài Gòn had to do was sit a bit deeper.”

Beatable

Losing the aura of invincibility at Hàng Đẫy Stadium has also been a factor, according to George.

“With such an incredible home record and now it’s finally fallen, I think it gives other teams a bit of a boost every time they have Hà Nội knowing that they are beatable,” he said.

It’s tough at the top and Nghiêm’s side are taking every team’s best shot this season and with that comes added hurdles, as they found out when they were faced with a raucous and significantly over capacity crowd in the 1-1 draw away to Hà Tĩnh last month.

Whether getting the likes of Quang Hải and Faye back in the lineup is enough to catapult Hà Nội back to the top of the table remains to be seen, but what is clear is that the pressure is on Nghiêm and his charges to fulfill some high expectations. VNS

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