V.League preview: Hanoi FC with compulsory three-point mission against Saigon

Saturday, 2019-07-20 16:46:32
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Hanoi FC (in blue) beat Saigon FC 2-0 in the first leg of the 2019 V.League. (Photo: VPF)
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NDO – After missing out on a victory in their last two V.League games, reigning champions Hanoi FC will play guest to Saigon FC on matchday 17 this Sunday (July 21), with an ultimate goal of bagging the full three points to foster hopes of catching up with leaders Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City in the title race.

The two consecutive draws against Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN and Hoang Anh Gia Lai have rung an alarming bell for manager Chu Dinh Nghiem’s side, as they are now three points behind HCM City. The return to Thong Nhat Stadium this weekend is predicted not to be comfortable at all for the capital team, who suffered a humiliating 2-5 defeat in their latest game with Saigon FC there.

There are so many hindrances for Hanoi FC at the moment. After the Saigon clash, they will continue playing away against title frontrunners HCM City. If dropping a matchday 17 win, Hanoi FC will see their gap with Chung Hae-seong’s troops possibly widened to five, even six points, which will add greater trouble to their title defence ambitions this season. The reigning champions will need to maintain their optimal concentration until the last whistle to avoid any regretable results, as Saigon FC have been on an impressive home run since the beginning of the season with four wins and three draws.

Thanh Hoa FC will take on HCM City in a headline-grabber this weekend, with a perfect home-field record serving as their firm fulcrum. Despite having their 10-game unbeaten run halted by Nam Dinh FC in the previous matchday, Vu Quang Bao’s side are on an amazing five-game winning streak at home, making Thanh Hoa Stadium a “nightmare venue” for any V.League sides.

HCM City (in red) and Thanh Hoa FC (in yellow) play out a goalless draw in the first leg. (Photo: VPF)

Regardless of their reign atop the table, HCM City have now gone four away clashes without a win, including two consecutive defeats in V.League. Given that fact, concentration and precaution are needed for Chung Hae-seong’s troops if they want to grab the full three points from fourth-placed Thanh Hoa FC, who will surely push hard for a triumph to reduce their gap with the top-three teams.

Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN’s trip to Viettel FC is also one of the much-anticipated clashes on matchday 17. Despite remaining stuck in rock-bottom position in the table, Khanh Hoa, the phenomenon of the 2018 season, are showing signs of recovery with an incredible 2-2 draw at reigning champions Hanoi FC and a narrow 1-0 victory over former title holders Becamex Binh Duong in their last two league games. Highly inspired by these positive results, Vo Dinh Tan’s side are eagerly and confidently looking forward to another win against newly promoted Viettel on Sunday, which will help them make a great stride towards escaping from relegation at the end of the season.

Quang Ninh Coal are among the few teams to maintain stable form so far this season. A six-game unbeaten streak (six wins and one draw) has helped to further consolidate their place in the top three, only two points behind second-placed Hanoi FC. There is no doubt that Phan Thanh Hung’s side will push hard for the full three points against Hai Phong FC tomorrow in order to continue pouring pressure on the two title frontrunners, HCM City and Hanoi FC.

Second-from-bottom Hoang Anh Gia Lai will play Song Lam Nghe An at home, knowing that a defeat will name them as the odds-on favourites for a relegation spot this season. Having gone nine winless matches with five draws and four losses, Lee Tae-hoon’s troops are in a desperate need of a victory to break out of the dangerous zone, especially as bottom-place Sanna Khanh Hoa are showing signs of a strong recovery with one win and one draw in the last two matchdays.

In the remaining two clashes of matchday 17, Becamex Binh Duong will host 2017 champions Quang Nam FC, while Nam Dinh FC will play guest to SHB Da Nang.

VAN TOAN