Hanoi FC have demonstrated the bravery of the reigning champions in the toughest moment of the season, successfully snatching the top spot away from Ho Chi Minh City after matchday 14. The home clash against Sanna Khanh Hoa on Saturday will be a precious chance for Nghiem and his players to solidify their position as the title frontrunners. A full three points will hardly escape from the hands of Hanoi FC, who are set to grab the upper hand thanks to the home-field advantage, psychological comfort and efficient playing style.
Meanwhile, the crisis currently faced by Sanna Khanh Hoa is showing signs of spreading widely and going beyond the control of manager Vo Dinh Tan. The phenomenon of the 2018 season no longer retains their form, earning just nine points throughout the last 14 league matches (with only two wins). After each defeat, Sanna Khanh Hoa move one step closer to the First Division tournament next season, but they are now struggling helplessly to change that destiny.
Thanh Hoa enjoyed a good start under the dynasty of newly appointed manager Vu Quang Bao, as they beat Sanna Khanh Hoa last weekend to climb to fifth with 21 points. However, an in-crisis Khanh Hoa side could not be considered an accurate measure of Thanh Hoa’s power after the appointment of their new manager. The central-region derby against fourth-place Song Lam Nghe An on Friday will offer Vu Quang Bao the chance to prove his capabilities in the “hot seat” at Thanh Hoa Stadium.
The addition of Joel Vinicius, the former no. 1 scorer of Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City, has yet to ease concerns in the attacking lineup of Song Lam Nghe An, evidenced through their goalless draw with SHB Da Nang in the opening clash of the V.League second leg. The new problem posed to manager Nguyen Duc Thang is how to combine Olaha and Vinicius in order to increase their scoring efficiency.
Under the instruction of manager Vu Hong Viet, Quang Nam FC are showing signs of positive transformations. In addition to qualifying for the National Cup semifinals, Viet’s troops are performing optimistically in V.League. Despite having yet to escape from the bottom group on the table, the 2017 champions have widened their gap with bottom-placed Sanna Khanh Hoa to five points, which is a favourable premise for them to make a breakthrough. With the supplementation of Hoang Vu Samson, a leading scorer from Hanoi FC, Quang Nam FC are confidently looking towards the full three points while playing Saigon FC on home field this weekend.
Ho Chi Minh City (in grey) have now gone three games without a win. (Photo: VPF)
Regardless of their impressive performance in the AFC Cup and National Cup arenas, Becamex Binh Duong are showing unstable form in V.League, evidenced through their disappointing 1-1 draw against lower-rated Nam Dinh FC on the previous matchday. Manager Nguyen Thanh Son’s side are at risk of returning empty-handed from their matchday 15 trip to HCM City later today, as Chung Hae-seong’s troops are highly determined for a win to compensate for their humiliating defeat against newly promoted Viettel.
HCM City dropped the top spot to Hanoi FC right after the first matchday of the V.League. More worryingly, they have gone three games without a win. Such a poor run has dealt a blow to HCM City’s title ambition. Opportunities still remain for Chung and his players to amend their mistakes, but most importantly, they have to promptly stand up after defeat.
Meanwhile, inspired by their amazing 1-0 victory over title favourites HCM City, Viettel are eyeing to win the full three points in their trip to Nam Dinh FC this weekend.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai will play guest to Quang Ninh Coal with their confidence enhanced by their victories against manager Phan Thanh Hung’s side in the National Cup and the V.League first leg.
SHB Da Nang are expected to make use of the home-field advantage to overcome the visitors Hai Phong FC, who are currently third from bottom.