Viettel vs Hà Nội in the V.League 1 match on Thursday. The two teams drew 0-0. Photo nhandan.com.vn
HÀ NỘI — Despite his team's failure to win a crucial three points on Thursday night against Viettel, Hà Nội FC coach Chu Đình Nghiêm has said this season's dramatic V.League 1 title race will come down to the wire.
After the goalless draw against Viettel at Hàng Đẫy Stadium on Thursday, Hà Nội stand third with 33 points after 18 matches, while Viettel stay top on 35 points, Sài Gòn FC are in second with 34 points and Quảng Ninh Coal are fourth with 31 points.
Despite the favourable result against defending champions Hà Nội, Viettel's path to the championship is not smooth as they have matches against two top-four reams, namely Quảng Ninh and Sài Gòn.
“This draw was an unfortunate result for us, although both teams had the opportunities but we didn’t take advantage of them. In the collision situation between Rimario Gordon of Hà Nội and captain of Viettel, Bùi Tiến Dũng, Dũng deserved to get a second yellow card, but it was the referee's decision. Viettel slowed the speed of the match to seek a point. Our player Nguyễn Quang Hải didn’t always shine,” said Nghiêm.
“Defender Đoàn Văn Hậu couldn’t play in this match because he hasn’t recovered well from his injury. If Hậu was in good form then I would have used him in a deadlocked match to make use of his height,” Nghiêm added.
"At the moment, no one can guess which team will take the title. Viettel still have to play Quảng Ninh and Sài Gòn. The goal difference of Hà Nội is the best if the teams have the same points as each other. If Hà Nội can defeat Sài Gòn in the next match, then the race is still dramatic and unpredictable. The championship race is now a matter of four teams. If a team has a bad result in the upcoming match, their position will be pushed down,” said Nghiêm.
"We studied Hà Nội a lot. They hold the ball well. I asked my players not to leave space for our opponent. When Hà Nội had the ball, there was no space for them to finish,” said coach Trương Việt Hoàng of Viettel.
“The defenders played hard and followed the tactics of the coaching staff well. Our goal was to win at least one point. Now it's too much to talk about the championship race, just one match can change many things. We set the highest goal in the match against Quảng Ninh. I feel normal with the draw against Hà Nội, it isn’t a win to celebrate,” Hoàng added.
Meanwhile, coach Vũ Tiến Thành of Sài Gòn is confident that Hà Nội will be going all out to defend their championship.
"Now I can't say anything about the championship race. Hà Nội have a great chance, but if they want to win, they have to beat Sài Gòn. In the first leg, we beat Hà Nội 1-0. Everyone said Hà Nội were better, but we beat them so there is no reason not to win again," said Thành following the 2-1 victory of Sài Gòn over Quảng Ninh on Thursday.
Thành said the win over Quảng Ninh helped his team have a chance to earn a ticket to the AFC Cup 2021 if they finish second in the league.
"I am concerned about this opportunity and want to put pressure on my players. We must have a ticket to the AFC Cup so that every week the Thống Nhất Stadium can light up," said Thành.
Sài Gòn will meet Hà Nội on November 3 and with only one point separating them. — VNS