V.League preview: Relegation race takes centre stage

Friday, 2019-10-18 10:27:32
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Bottom-placed Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN still have the chance to turn the tables if they win the remaining two matches of the 2019 V.League.
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NDO – This weekend, all eyes will be on the V.League relegation race as the six bottom teams are bound to deploy their strongest forces seeking to achieve the goal of preserving their V.League status, with only two matches left to play in the 2019 season.

After three successive defeats, newly promoted Viettel turned their form around by a narrow 2-1 victory over Becamex Binh Duong on the 24th matchday. However, Nguyen Hai Bien’s troops are expected to face numerous difficulties when playing guest to Thanh Hoa FC tomorrow. The issue of players’ fitness is the biggest concern for the 50-year-old manager as many of his warriors have just returned from the national mission, including Viet Phong, Trong Hoang, Bui Tien Dung and Que Ngoc Hai, who have only two days to prepare for the Thanh Hoa trip. In addition, the possibility of defender Trong Dai playing is still left open due to his injury.

Meanwhile, the psychological pressure is overshadowing Thanh Hoa FC, who only managed to score a solitary point in their last nine games. With just one point clear of bottom-placed Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN, Thanh Hoa are at high risk of taking the direct relegation ticket if they lose either of the remaining two matches. As for the Viettel side, a victory this weekend will officially secure them a place in next year’s V.League, as the gap between them and second-from-bottom Thanh Hoa is currently five points.

Level with Viettel on 30 points, Hai Phong FC will also need one more win to officially rescue themselves from relegation this season. However, on the penultimate matchday, the northern port team will travel to third-from-bottom Nam Dinh FC without two pillars, Jermie D. Lynch and Le Manh Dung (under suspension). This disadvantage for Hai Phong will give manager Nguyen Van Dung’s side an opportunity to earn a positive result, which is very important in Nam Dinh’s bid to avoid relegation at the end of the season.

Bottom-placed Sanna Khanh Hoa have been recovering strongly over recent matchdays. Vo Dinh Tan’s troops still have the chance to save themselves by winning their remaining two games of the 2019 V.League. With one win and one draw in their last two matches, the central coastal team have reduced their gap with Thanh Hoa to only a single point and are now four points behind Nam Dinh FC. Therefore, Sanna Khanh Hoa will still be able to retain their V.League status if they can bag the full six points (including three against Saigon FC tomorrow) and their direct competitors get poor results in the days to come.

Meanwhile, Saigon have officially avoided relegation as they are now seven points clear of second-from-bottom Thanh Hoa with just two games to go. Playing guest to Sanna Khanh Hoa, who have nothing to lose, is predicted to be a big challenge for Nguyen Thanh Cong’s troops. However, as a top-three finish still remains within reach, the southern team will surely exert great efforts to claim the three points away this weekend.

In addition to the top two spots, which have already been secured by Hanoi FC (52 points) and Ho Chi Minh City (45), the race for a top-three finish is getting fiercer than ever with the competition among six teams, namely Quang Ninh Coal (35), Song Lam Nghe An (33), SHB Da Nang (33), Becamex Binh Duong (32), Quang Nam FC (32) and Saigon FC (32).

VAN TOAN