V.League preview: Fighting for top spot

Friday, 2019-04-26 18:14:58
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Hanoi FC wil resume their reign at top of the V.League table if they defeat HCM City in match day 7 this weekend. (Photo: VPF)
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NDO – This weekend, Chung Hae-seong’s Ho Chi Minh City side will travel to Hanoi FC’s Hang Day stadium for the most anticipated clash of the 2019 V.League match day 7. The fight between the top two teams in the table promises to be full of excitement and thrills, as either side who wins the game will get the upper hand against their direct competitors in the title race.

HCM City are experiencing a fairytale run in V.League scoring five wins and one draw after six matches and reigning on top of the standings two points clear of defending champions Hanoi FC. After a forgettable 2018 season struggling to escape from the relegation zone, HCM City have overcome themselves to emerge as the odds-on favourites for this year’s V.League crown.

However, the 2019 title campaign has just begun and the fact is that most of HCM City’s victories were won against middle-class opponents. In order to make their V.League dream come true, Chung Hae-seong’s side will have to affirm their power against strong rivals of the same level, such as Hanoi FC, who have been a real force in the V.League over the past few years. If managing to beat Chu Dinh Nghiem’s troops on Saturday, HCM City will continue to fly high at the top with a five-point advantage against the title holders and produce a big leap forward in their ambition of conquering the V.League trophy at the end of the season.

Like HCM City, Hanoi FC have maintained a six-game unbeaten run throughout their past six matches in V.League, but still have to chase behind due to one win fewer than the southern representatives. Undoubtedly, the capital team will also head into the match with the highest level of determination, as they certainly do not want to spurn such a precious opportunity to surpass HCM City to resume their reign at top of the table.

HCM City’s three-point ambition at Hang Day stadium will be slightly affected, as they will not served by Hoang Thinh (injury), who has joined Van Thuan to make an effective central midfielder duo contributing to the team’s flying performance since the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, Hanoi FC will suffer a big disadvantage as they have to play behind closed doors – a punishment from the Vietnam Football Federation after the Hang Day stadium management board failed to prevent the Hai Phong FC supporters from lighting flares in their clash in match day 6 last weekend.

Thanh Hoa FC will play guest to Hoang Anh Gia Lai on Sunday in a desperate effort to secure their first win of the 2019 V.League. This season, Thanh Hoa are no longer displaying the brilliant form that helped them wrap up last year’s tournament in second place. From a V.League giant, Nguyen Duc Thang’s side has now become the odds-on favourites for relegation after being rooted to bottom position following three draws and three losses.

In order to make the situation more favourable, Thanh Hoa FC have to bag the full three points at Pleiku stadium this weekend. However, their ambition will certainly face a tough challenge posed by Hoang Anh Gia Lai, who are also in crisis with four defeats in six games. With the home advantage, newly appointed manager Lee Tae-hoon’s side will surely push hard for a win so as to regain the trust from the fans and make a breakthrough in the table.

VAN TOAN