V.League Matchday 5 preview: Can Hoang Anh Gia Lai extend winning home run?

Tuesday, 2020-06-16 17:45:16
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Hoang Anh Gia Lai (in white) have won all of their last five matches on home turf.
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NDO – Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) will play host to leaders Saigon FC on Matchday 5 at Pleiku Stadium, with Lee Tae-hoon’s side expected to have a mountain to climb if they want to extend their winning home run.

Having suffered two consecutive losses since the resumption of football events in Vietnam, HAGL eventually tasted the flavour of a victory by beating Nam Dinh FC 1-0 on the latest matchday. During the match, HAGL returned to their familiar and effective possession play style, implementing short passes to take advantage of the skill and speed of their well-trained domestic players.

Such an adjustment enabled HAGL players to attack quickly and effectively show off their strongest points.

Together with the pressure-relieving win over Nam Dinh, the five-game winning home streak will certainly provide a big boost to HAGL’s confidence heading into their important clash against title race frontrunners Saigon FC on Thursday.

Saigon FC, meanwhile, are considered a “high-dose” test for HAGL’s revival process. After parting ways with manager Hoang Van Phuc, Saigon FC have demonstrated stable form under new manager Vu Tien Thanh. The southern team have gone four straight league matches without a loss, with two wins and two draws, which has lifted them to top of the table for the first time since their V.League promotion.

From a low-rated team, Saigon FC have now emerged as one of the title favourites thanks to a scientific counterattacking style and the strong determination of the players.

Last season, Saigon FC beat HAGL twice, at home and away, with the same score of 3-1. Obviously, it promises to be a tough mission for Lee Tae-hoon’s side to extend their winning run on home turf, even though they are “relayed” by the exuberant home fans.

The brilliant form of Saigon FC and the strong revival of HAGL will make their Thursday confrontation one of the clashes of Matchday 5. There is no doubt that both teams will aim towards the full three points to further strengthen their position in the table.

Hanoi FC beat Song Lam Nghe An 4-0 at Hang Day Stadium in the 2019 V.League season.

The Hanoi FC-Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) match on the same day will be a battle between a team with strong attacking power and limited defence, and vice versa. This season, reigning champions Hanoi FC are suffering due to the absence of centre back duo Tran Dinh Trong and Nguyen Duy Manh. This disadvantage was among the main reasons for their conceding a 1-3 defeat to Quang Ninh Coal and a 1-1 draw against newly promoted Hong Linh Ha Tinh on the previous matchday.

Meanwhile, SLNA are one of only three teams to have remained unbeaten in V.League 2020, alongside leaders Saigon FC and second-placed Viettel, and particularly the only side to keep a clean sheet thus far. However, Ngo Quang Truong’s side currently face a crisis in their attacking lineup as they have only managed to score twice after four matches.

SLNA once thrashed Hanoi FC 6-2 away in the 2012 season, but since 2015, the central team have always returned empty-handed from Hang Day Stadium, including a humiliating 0-4 defeat last season. Obviously, Phan Van Duc and teammates do not want such a bad away run to be continued, especially as their opponents’ power is deteriorating. A draw may be an acceptable result.

After a bitter 0-1 loss to city rivals Saigon FC, Ho Chi Minh City will continue with a home clash against second-placed Viettel FC on Wednesday. This will not be an easy match for Chung Hae-seong’s side as Viettel have been performing well since the beginning of the season.

In addition to the aforementioned encounters, Matchday 5 will witness some other confrontations, including Quang Nam FC vs Becamex Binh Duong, Hai Phong FC vs Quang Ninh Coal, Thanh Hoa FC vs Nam Dinh FC, and Hong Linh Ha Tinh vs SHB Da Nang.