Saturday, 14/04/2018 10:23

Thanh Hóa focus on local league

Thanh Hoa determine to beat Becamex Binh Duong in their V/League’s sixth round match this weekend. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HA NOI — FLC Thanh Hoa will play Becamex Binh Duong this weekend under acting coach Hoang Thanh Tung, after their Romanian manager, Marian Mihail, resigned.

Thanh Hoa ended their run at the AFC Cup tournament and are now focussing on local leagues, especially the V.League, which have tried but failed to win over four previous seasons.

“The first leg of the season is always difficult. If you cannot achieve good results, it will be hard to compete against other teams in the second leg. We need a step-by-step plan for our team,” Tung said.

He added that the pressure on the team and the coach is always considerable after suffering defeats. Therefore, a win against Binh Duong is essential if Thanh Hoa want to narrow the gap with title contenders, such as Quang Ninh Coal and Ha Noi FC.

Thanh Hoa are now seventh in the league with six points after four rounds, while Binh Duong are a point behind in eight. A win will improve Thanh Hoa’s position, but if they lose, Binh Duong will overtake them.

Ha Noi will visit SHB Da Nang at their fortress, the Hoa Xuan Stadium, where the hosts rarely lose.

Prior to the match, coach Chu Dinh Nghiem carefully prepared his team to extend their unbeaten run and maintain their leading position in the league.

He rested some of his key players during their National Cup match, to ensure their peak performance for their next V.League match.

Ha Noi, with three wins and one draw, recently achieved their best ever start to the league.

However, in today’s match, key players Do Duy Manh and Tran Dinh Trong may not play, due to injuries suffered last week, while the talented U23 midfielder, Nguyen Quang Hai, has not performed at his best since the start of the season.

The hosts have impressive since the start of the season by reaching fourth place in the league, three points behind Ha Noi. A win against the visitors will reduce this gap.

Midfielder Vo Huy Toan of SHB Da Nang warned his teammates about the dangers posed by the young star, Hai.

“Ha Noi are a strong team who play together well. Hai is also a dangerous player with great technique and who can turn matches,” Toan said.

“He can create something out of nothing with his left foot. We must keep an eye on him and stop him,” he added.

However, the former national team player affirmed his team’s determination to beat Ha Noi, and believes in the ability of striker Do Merlo, who recently became a naturalised Vietnamese.

Merlo has been playing football for many years and joined Da Nang in 2009, except for a year off in 2015 to recover from injury. He has also scored over 100 goals and won the league’s Top Scorer Award and Best Foreign Player Award for three consecutive years, from 2009 to 2011.

The match against hosts Sai Gon FC will be a major challenge for Hoang Anh Gia Lai, who are short of players, due to injuries and suspensions.

Midfielder Chau Ngoc Quang must rest for at least four weeks because of a ligament injury, while defender A Hoang is suffering from back pain and winger Le Duc Luong has a groin injury.

Their defender, Nguyen Tang Tien, was suspended until the end of the first leg by both the Viet Nam Football Federation and his club, due to his violent conduct during a match last week.

However, their rivals have not won a match this season and are second from bottom. Their captain, Nguyen Ngoc Duy, and goalkeeper Tong Duc An will be on the bench due to injuries, while defender Nguyen Quoc Long is banned for two matches.

Hoang Anh Gia Lai have won two games, drawn two and lost one in their last five matches.

In the league’s other matches, HCM City FC will visit Nam Dinh, Can Tho will host former champions Song Lam Nghe An, and Hai Phong will entertain Quang Nam. — VNS


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