Last update: 09:30 | 21/04/2018
Despite the absence of “assassin” Hoang Vu Samson, Hanoi FC are still showing an impressive form since the beginning of the season. The capital team have proven themselves as the odds-on favourites for this year’s league trophy, as they remain dominant atop the provisional table with 13 points following a five-game unbeaten run.
During their trip to Hoa Xuan Stadium last weekend, Hanoi demonstrated their impressive power by claiming a resounding 4-0 win against SHB Da Nang thanks to a hat-trick by Nigerian forward Oseni and a last-minute goal by Minh Di. This will be a big source of inspiration and motivation for 46-year-old Chu Dinh Nghiem and his players as they get ready to receive their guests from Saigon this Sunday.
A triumph over Saigon FC will help to extend Hanoi’s winning streak at Hang Day Stadium to seven matches, which means that manager Chu Dinh Nghiem will break the previous record (six home wins in a row) set by his predecessor Phan Thanh Hung in the 2015 season.
Hanoi FC is currently the only unbeaten team in the 2018 V.League.
As for Saigon FC, manager Phan Van Tai Em’s side took their first win of the season by beating Hoang Anh Gia Lai 3-1 last weekend. The victory has helped to relieve some the pressure on the shoulders of Saigon’s players following their poor run of three consecutive losses. However, the trip to Hang Day Stadium this weekend promises to be tough for Phan Van Tai Em and his players, as they will have to dig in against a team who have kept clean sheets in all of their last six V.League matches on home turf, an unprecedentedly impressive achievement in the history of the club. With the advantage of playing at home, Hanoi FC will surely head into Sunday’s fixture determined to take the full three points and strengthen their hold on the top of the table.
Reigning champions Quang Nam FC will play host to this year’s dark horse Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN in another centre-stage encounter of the sixth round. After a poor run of one win and one draw in the first four matches, Quang Nam managed to record a crucial 2-0 victory at Hai Phong last weekend, moving up six places to seventh in the table with seven points, just three points below third-placed Khanh Hoa. Given that fact, manager Hoang Van Phuc’s players will undoubtedly fight even harder to secure a win on home turf and foster their hopes of a title defence this year.
Second-placed Quang Ninh Coal is the most comfortable team this weekend as they only have to take on V.League newbies Nam Dinh FC, who are currently rooted to the bottom with just a solitary point after five matches. A home win is quite within the reach of manager Phan Thanh Hung’s side, as there is a wide gap in terms of profession, stemming from the quality of players, which remains a problem for Nam Dinh’s manager Nguyen Van Sy and his newly promoted team.
Much-favoured Hoang Anh Gia Lai will play travel to SHB Da Nang on Saturday with their confidence seriously affected by their 3-1 defeat away to lower-rated Saigon last weekend. The current weakness of manager Duong Minh Ninh’s side lies in their defensive line. The lack of quality defenders has led them to follow the same path of failure as in previous seasons. Dang Tuan, Duc Luong, or Nguyen Tang Tien (under suspension) are not the most reliable players, while the latest supplement to the defensive line, foreigner Kim Jin-seo, is failing to live up to expectations, making a string of mistakes.
At the other end of the pitch, Hoang Anh Gia Lai’s attacking has also been poor, as favourite striker Nguyen Cong Phuong is in a period of bad form and constantly loses the ball, while Van Toan and Rimario haven’t been able to pick up the slack. As a result of their “ineffective attack and weak defence”, the Gia Lai team have conceded eight goals and only scored once in their last two V.League matches. More importantly, manager Duong Minh Ninh and his players are suffering from huge psychological pressure ahead of their sixth-round trip to Hoa Xuan Stadium. If they cannot regain their confidence soon, Hoang Anh Gia Lai will possibly be on the end of another bad result at SHB Da Nang.