V.League preview: Waiting for Hanoi FC to complete title defence

Thursday, 2019-09-19 12:28:45
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Hanoi FC striker Pape Omar Faye is currently leading the "Golden Boot" race with 14 goals.
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NDO – Hanoi FC will successfully defend their V.League crown with two matches in hand if they manage to beat hosts Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) in the most anticipated fixture of Matchday 24 later today (September 19).

Ahead of their Thursday trip to Vinh Stadium, the capital team are sitting firmly on top of the table, seven points clear of their nearest challengers, Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City. With only three matchdays left to go, a draw will be enough to help Chu Dinh Nghiem’s side to be officially crowned the conquerors of the title race in the 2019 season, regardless of the results of the remaining matches.

In case of a defeat for Hanoi FC, HCM City will continue to foster their fragile hopes of turning the tables in the end. Nonetheless, it is not exaggerated to say that the reigning champions’ lineup are currently too strong for any teams to hinder them from dashing forward to the overall trophy.

Manager Chu Dinh Nghiem currently possesses a quality squad from foreign players to domestic warriors. Senegalese striker Pape Omar Faye is leading the “golden boot” race with 14 goals, one above Hoang Vu Samson (Quang Nam FC) and two clear of Pedro Paulo (Saigon FC). Captain Nguyen Van Quyet has proved himself to be an indispensable pillar in Hanoi FC’s playing style. Fan favourite Nguyen Quang Hai has yet to show signs of overload despite having to play on many fronts. Meanwhile, the remaining positions can be adjusted flexibly.

In the last matchday, Hanoi FC came from two goals behind to defeat newly promoted Viettel 5-2, which demonstrates the competition bravery and experience of a team gradually rising to the continental level.

There are no doubts that Chu Dinh Nghiem’s troops are aspiring towards an away victory against SLNA in order to successfully finalise their mission in the domestic front and turn their focus on the AFC Cup arena, where they have secured a historic place in the Inter-zone final against April 25 Sports Club from the DPR Korea.

Song Lam Nghe An (in yellow) have yet to clinch a V.League win against Hanoi FC over the past five years.

According to statistics, over the past five years, SLNA have yet to clinch a V.League win against Hanoi FC. The superior head-to-head record will be a big source of motivation for the capital side to look towards a positive result at Vinh Stadium later today.

With curtains to be closed on the title race, the battle in the bottom group continues to take place fiercely, with Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), Thanh Hoa FC and Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN struggling to accumulate points in the hopes of avoiding relegation at the end of the season.

The 1-3 defeat against Saigon FC last weekend has put HAGL on red alert as they are now only one point clear of second-from-bottom Thanh Hoa FC. A victory over Hai Phong FC on Friday will be must for Lee Tae-hoon’s side to retain the autonomy to determine their fate. Ahead of their home clash against Hai Phong, HAGL received good news as captain midfielder Tuan Anh is ready to return from suspension. Meanwhile, Hai Phong FC, who have gone four games unbeaten, currently stand in ninth place with 30 points, just five points above the relegation zone. Therefore, they are also aspiring to win the full three points to further solidify the chance of retaining their V.League place next season.

The three-point mission is also being set for the two bottom teams, Thanh Hoa FC and Sanna Khanh Hoa, if they do not want to throw away their fragile hopes of escaping from relegation to the First Division. Thanh Hoa will play guest to former champions SHB Da Nang while Sanna Khanh Hoa are to host Nam Dinh FC. Both matches will take place on Saturday.

VAN TOAN