Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) are seeking a win against Quang Nam in their Toyota V.League 1’s 16th round match at Tam Ky Stadium today to avoid relegation.
The task seems difficult as they have only 10 points from 16 matches and rank 13th among 14 teams.
HAGL elicited the interest of fans all over the country because they are the youngest team in the nation’s premier league. Most of their players are members of the former national U19 squad who grew up playing in the Hoang Anh Gia Lai-Arsenal JMG Academy.
They have had only draws and losses in their past 10 matches and need a win today to repay their fans’ love.
According to experts, HAGL’s problem lies in its defence, the team’s weakest point as its defenders often make costly errors.
Today, HAGL will see the return of defender Franklin Anzite, who was suspended for two matches. This will be a big boost for the Central Highlands team.
Meanwhile, Quang Nam also risk relegation. They are now ranked 11th with 14 points.
Defender Nguyen Ngoc Nguyen of Quang Nam will not play following his suspension.
However, according to coach Hoang Van Phuc, Nguyen’s absence will not affect the team much as he has veteran players in Nguyen Huy Hung, Phan Thanh Hung, Tambwe Patiyo and Suleiman Abdullahi.
In other matches, Quang Ninh Coal will face SHB Da Nang on their home turf in Cam Pha Stadium.
Quang Ninh are no more among top three and now rank sixth with 24 points.
In the 15th round last Saturday, the team lost 3-0 to bottom-placed Can Tho. A few hours after the match, coach Dinh Cao Nghia told the Quang Ninh management that he wanted to quit, a request that was accepted. Nghia disappointed that his team had suffered a big loss against a weaker side.
The team have not found a replacement, and assistant coach Hoang Tho will temporarily take charge.
Meanwhile, Da Nang are playing poorly and dropping down the rankings. They have suffered two losses in a row and are ranked ninth with 19 points.
Despite being without a coach, Quang Ninh are expected to beat their rivals, backed by the support of their fans on their home turf.
Elsewhere, Binh Duong will meet Khanh Hoa, Dong Nai will face Song Lam Nghe An, and Hai Phong will take on Dong Tam Long An, while Thanh Hoa will play Can Tho and Ha Noi T&T will meet Dong Thap.