V.League preview: Hanoi FC expected to redeem themselves after regrettable draw

Monday, 2019-07-15 18:38:52
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Hanoi FC (in blue) and Hoang Anh Gia Lai play out a goalless draw in the first leg of the 2019 V.League.
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NDO – Reigning V.League champions Hanoi FC will play host to Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) on matchday 16 of the 2019 campaign, hoping to clinch a comfortable win against manager Lee Tae-hoon’s side who are currently in a serious crisis with a six-game winless run.

The capital team had successfully snatched the top spot from Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City after matchday 14, but immediately lost it back to the hands of Chung Hae-seong’s troops as a result of their regrettable 2-2 draw against bottom-placed side Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN last weekend.

The wasted opportunities and low concentration in the last minutes forced Hanoi FC to drop full three points and miss the chance to maintain their grip on top of the table. Undoubtedly, Chu Dinh Nghiem’s players will enter the Wednesday clash against low-form HAGL with fierce determination to redeem themselves and foster hopes of conquering the peak of the table once again.

Meanwhile, HAGL have dropped to 13th place in the table, one short of rock bottom, after their humiliating 0-3 defeat against Quang Ninh Coal on matchday 15. Lee Tae-hoon’s troops have gone six games without a win (four losses and two draws) and are now only five points clear of Sanna Khanh Hoa at bottom. The lineup additions for the V.League return leg, such as Felipe Martins, Dinh Thanh Binh and especially midfielder Luong Xuan Truong, have still yet to fully tap into their potential. Even forward Nguyen Van Toan, the club’s top scorer in the first leg, has also lost his rhythm.

Given that fact, HAGL are expected to have a stormy trip to Hang Day Stadium this Wednesday. Alongside rocky form from some players, Lee’s side will suffer another big disadvantage, as midfielder Hong Duy risks being kept out for a few weeks due to his rib injury. A defeat against Hanoi FC may be inevitable for the guests, which also mean a possibility of a narrower gap between them and bottom-place Khanh Hoa.

Ho Chi Minh City (in red) have reclaimed top spot from Hanoi FC after beating Becamex Binh Duong (in blue) on matchday 15 last weekend.

HCM City are currently in an ecstatic mood after regaining their lead in the title race with a convincing 2-0 victory over former champions Becamex Binh Duong. Manager Chung Hae-seong recently declared his ambition of conquering the 2019 V.League trophy with the southern team. By ending their three-game winless run, HCM City are confidently heading towards the full three points against sixth-placed SHB Da Nang to further consolidate their reign.

Despite finishing the first leg in the top three, Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) were knocked down into fifth place after the first two matchdays of the return leg, during which they only managed to earn a single point and failed to even score a goal. Their problem lies in the attacking lineup, as they played well in the last three matches but wasted a bunch of opportunities. After two games of getting familiar with the new team, the new signing from HCM City, forward Joel Vinicius, is expected to prove himself as SLNA take on Saigon FC tomorrow. A strong defensive lineup and a perfect home-field record (unbeaten in the last eight games) will be the advantages for Nguyen Duc Thang’s troops against a Saigon side, who have lost six of their seven away matches since the beginning of the season.

Quang Ninh Coal are hoped to comfortably clinch three points as they play host to newly promoted Viettel on Wednesday. Phan Thanh Hung’s side have now been unbeaten in five consecutive games with three wins and two draws. Such an amazing run has lifted them to third place, only five points behind leaders HCM City. The upcoming home clash against unstable Viettel, now in seventh, will be the chance for Quang Ninh Coal to gain a positive result and continue to chase closely behind the two frontrunners, HCM City and Hanoi FC, in the title race.

In other matchday 16 games, bottom-place Sanna Khanh Hoa will take on Becamex Binh Duong, while Thanh Hoa FC and Hai Phong travelled to Nam Dinh FC and 2017 champions Quang Nam FC, respectively.

VAN TOAN