V.League preview: Who produce better “sprints”?

Friday, 2019-08-23 12:24:48
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The Matchday 22 clash between Hanoi FC (in blue) and Nam Dinh FC is delayed to September 11, aiming to help the capital team prepare for the second leg of the AFC Cup Inter-zone semifinal.
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NDO – The 2019 V.League has only five more matchdays left to go, which also means the title race has entered its sprint phase. The success or failure of teams throughout the whole season will be significantly affected by their results in the remaining clashes. Can Hanoi FC utilise the current advantage to defend their crown against Ho Chi Minh City? Will Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN cancel out the gap with above-place teams to save themselves?

The focus of Matchday 22 will be the encounters in the bottom group. The teams currently in “red alert” have no other choice than to claim victories if they do not want to be named as the candidates for relegation berths.

Only six matches, instead of the usual seven, will take place this weekend as the Hanoi FC - Nam Dinh FC fixture is delayed to September 11, aiming to help the reigning champions prepare for the second leg of the AFC Cup Inter-zone semifinal against Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr. Therefore, this will be a chance for HCM City to temporarily reduce their gap with the capital team in the title race.

However, the problem is whether Chung Hae-seong’s side can fulfill that goal or not, as they have to play guest against Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) who are highly spirited after a resounding 4-1 win over Sanna Khanh Hoa.

As the title race is likely to see little surprise on this matchday, the race to escape 1.5 relegation places is taking the centre stage, and the Friday meeting between Quang Nam FC and bottom-placed Khanh Hoa is one of the focuses.

After straining themselves with a 1-4 defeat against SLNA last weekend, Vo Dinh Tan’s troops will face another difficult test, playing away against Quang Nam, who are in good form with a five-game unbeaten run, including three wins, and have provisionally climbed to sixth in the table.

A win against Sanna Khanh Hoa (in yellow) tonight will help Quang Nam FC (in blue) move one step closer to the goal of avoiding relegation at the end of the season.

Actually, Quang Nam have yet to be considered in the safe group, as they are only eight points clear of the Khanh Hoa side (28:20). So, the hosts are in need of more points to firmly ensure them a V.League berth next season. Meanwhile, if Khanh Hoa miss out on three points in tonight’s match they will move closer to the First Division tournament than ever.

The Saturday encounter between 10th-placed Saigon FC and 12th-placed Thanh Hoa FC promises to be fierce. It be seen as a “six-pointer”, because both hosts and guests are in the “red-alert” group. Saigon are only one point clear of the opponents in the table, while Thanh Hoa have now gone six games without a win, including five defeats. Given that fact, if either side finish empty-handed in the Saturday game they will immediately face the risk of being relegated.

Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), who are now only three points above bottom, will host SHB Da Nang in a must-win meeting on Sunday. If Matchday 22 concludes with zero points for HAGL and three points for Khanh Hoa, Lee Tae-hoon’s troops will see their gap with bottom-placed Khanh Hoa cancelled out, which means they will have almost register their name for the relegation ticket.

In addition to the three above-mentioned fixtures, the Hai Phong FC-Viettel meeting will surely take place with similar tensions, as both teams are in need of a win to bring them further away from the relegation zone.