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Hoàng Anh Gia Lai to face An Giang in National Cup opener

Update: February, 03/2021 - 17:42
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai striker Nguyễn Công Phượng (left) tries to pass Sông Lam Nghệ An players during their V.League 1 match last month. Hoàng Anh Gia Lai will play An Giang in the National Cup qualifier on April 9. Photo courtesy of VPF

Football

HÀ NỘI - Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) have been handed a straightforward National Cup draw against An Giang FC in the qualifying round following the online draw held on Tuesday in Hà Nội.

HAGL are expecting to fly high under their new coach Thai icon Kiatisuk Senamuang this season, and have three points from one win in the V.League 1.

An Giang are a V.League 2 team who have been in the second tier since 1997.

The National Cup includes 27 teams from the both V.League 1 and V.League 2 competing in a knock-out format from April 9 until September 30.

Due to the odd number of teams, Nam Định were randomly selected for a bye, while last year's four semi-finalists of Hà Nội FC, Viettel, HCM City and Quảng Ninh also got byes.

Other qualifying round matches include Hải Phòng vs Bình Phước, SHB Đà Nẵng vs Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu, Hồng Lĩnh Hà Tĩnh vs People’s Police, Sông Lam Nghệ An vs Phố Hiến and Phù Đổng vs Huế.

The cup winners will receive VNĐ1 billion (US$43,400) and a slot in the Asian Football Confederation Cup 2022.

Also on Tuesday, a draw for the V.League 2 season was held.

The 13 teams will play each other once, after which the seven top teams will compete for the title. The winning team will be promoted to the V.League 1 along and win a purse of VNĐ1 billion, while the first runner-up will take part in the play-off match for a chance to be promoted.

The other six teams will fight to avoid relegation.

Phú Thọ and Khánh Hòa's clash at Việt Trì Stadium will be the opening match on March 20. The two sides will also square off a month later in the National Cup.

Other games are between Phố Hiến vs Long An, Bình Phước vs former V.League 1 champions Quảng Nam, Cần Thơ vs freshmen People’s Police, An Giang vs Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu and Đắk Lắk vs Huế. Phù Đổng rest this round.

The V.League 2 is scheduled to end on September 18.

Last-minute exit

Tây Ninh announced their withdrawal from the V.League 2 just two weeks ahead of Tuesday's draw.

Each team must have at least VNĐ15 billion in the bank to compete in the first division, which Tây Ninh don't have.

“Tây Ninh could not cover the expenses for the competition as ruled so they have to leave the event. We really regret it and it is the reason why there are only 13 V.League 2 teams this season,” said VPF General Director Nguyễn Minh Ngọc.

The VPF and VFF tried to encourage the team to overcome their difficulties but Nguyễn Thanh Sơn, director of the Tây Ninh Football Joint-stock Company, said: “COVID-19 had a strong influence on local enterprises which are mainly in small and medium scale. They could not support us anymore."

Tây Ninh have long struggled financially and after the withdrawal was announced, head coach Hoàng Hải Dương and some players moved to Đồng Nai FC in the Second Division while other members are looking for jobs at other clubs.

The VPF has decided to have only the bottom-ranked team relegated instead of two previously after Tây Ninh withdrew. VNS

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