2019 AFC Cup Inter-zone Semi-final First Leg

Hanoi FC vs Altyn Asyr - Preview: Hanoi hope to utilise home-field advantage

Tuesday, 2019-08-20 11:29:50
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Hanoi FC (L) are aspiring to become the first Vietnamese side to reach the AFC Cup Inter-zone Final.
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NDO – Hanoi FC will host reigning runners-up Altyn Asyr of Turkmenistan in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semi-final on Tuesday (August 20). Despite facing a series of lineup challenges, Chu Dinh Nghiem’s side are expected to utilise their home-field advantage to reap a positive result, towards becoming the first Vietnamese side to reach the AFC Cup Inter-Zone Final

Ahead of their 2019 AFC Cup campaign, Hanoi FC had experienced unsuccessful tournament results, having regularly been eliminated right from the group stage. However, everything has changed this season as the defending V.League champions have demonstrated a completely different face and have shown their ambitions of conquering the continental arena. In the all-Vietnam ASEAN Zonal Final, Hanoi FC beat Becamex Binh Duong 2-0 on aggregate to represent ASEAN in the Inter-zone Semi-finals.

The present moment also sees Hanoi FC in stable form. Chu Dinh Nghiem’s troops have maintained an unbeaten run on all fronts, making the semifinals of the Vietnamese National Cup and reigning on top of the V.League table five points clear of Ho Chi Minh City. Most notably, the capital side are currently on a 10-game unbeaten streak in V.League, winning six matches and drawing just four.

With their top form, Hanoi FC are also aspiring to write a glorious new page for Vietnamese football on the continental playfield. In his recent speech, Chu Dinh Nghiem affirmed without reluctance his side’s goal of advancing as far as possible in the AFC Cup, which shows the V.League champions’ real ambitions in a tournament where Vietnamese teams previously participated just “for fun”.

Nonetheless, ahead of tonight’s match, the Hanoi manager admitted that his players were being overloaded due to their tight schedule over recent times. “What I am worried about the most is the players’ overload due to their constant matches. I mean they have no time to rest. The latest match we played was four days ago, while our Turkmenistan opponents played their last match 10 days ago, so they had more time off. With such overload, it is difficult for our players to maintain their fitness throughout the 90 minutes.”

In their 2-1 win over SHB Da Nang last weekend, Hanoi FC received bad news as defender Doan Van Hau suffered a knee injury, which could possibly keep him out for at least 4-5 weeks. This means that the 20-year-old will miss Hanoi’s matches against Altyn Asyr in the AFC Cup Inter-zone Semi-finals. This is also a huge loss for the Vietnam national team ahead of their September 5 away match against Thailand in the second round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. In addition to Van Hau, the possibility of Tran Van Kien and Nguyen Van Quyet being on-field is still left open due to light injuries.

Meanwhile, Altyn Asyr are currently in flying form with an unbeaten run on several fronts, temporarily sitting on top of Turkmenistan’s top-tier football league after 16 matchdays. Therefore, experts have forecast that tonight’s match will not be an easy one for the Vietnamese representatives.

However, speaking with reporters on August 19, Hanoi manager Chu Dinh Nghiem said that he had thoroughly researched the Turkmenistan club’s play-style, affirming his side’s determination to overcome current difficulties to win the game and advance further in the tournament.