National favourites Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) will be watched closely during the Toyota V-League 1’s fourth round today when they meet LG Hai Phong at the Lach Tray Stadium.
HAGL lost two matches in a row and will try its best to beat its rival in this round, but it will be a difficult task for the team, as it does not have the strongest line-up.
The team’s captain Luong Xuan Truong was injured during a match with Thanh Hoa in the third round last Saturday and has not recovered to play in the northern port city of Hai Phong.
In addition to Truong, the team is unlikely to have other key players, such as Nguyen Van Toan, Hoang Thanh Tung, Tran Huu Dong Trieu and Khuat Huu Long, playing as they are all down with miscellaneous injuries.
Meanwhile, the hosts Hai Phong will also try their best to earn three points in this match.
“HAGL players have a good technique, but their weakness is physical strength. We have chalked out a detailed plan to fight against them,” said coach Truong Viet Hoang.
HAGL have proved to be something of an enigma in the national premier league, as the team is made up of U19 players. All the young players grew up playing in the Hoang Anh Gia Lai-Arsenal JMG Academy. Most of them are members of the national U19 squad.
During the second and third rounds, HAGL lost to Dong Tam Long An and Thanh Hoa 2-1. However, both Long An and Thanh Hoa were criticised for playing too aggressively with these youngsters.
Coach Hoang doesn’t agree with this point of view.
“We are males playing football, not female. We will not play gently with HAGL. We will treat HAGL just like other rivals. Hai Phong needs a win to gain more points,” said Hoang.
After three rounds, Hai Phong is ranked second with seven points (two wins and one draw), while HAGL is ranked tenth, with three points, owing to it defeating Sanna Khanh Hoa 4-2 in the first round.
“I think that Doan Nguyen Duc, the owner of the HAGL club, is pushing his U19s to compete in the league with the aim of sharpening their skills and accumulating experience. So everyone should not complain. We ourselves are under pressure, because if we lose, many people will disparage us and but it will be glorious if we win,” Hoang said.
“In terms of football, we consider HAGL players as young brothers. They have potential and promise, but we will play fair and wholeheartedly to grab those three points,” said half-back Nguyen Minh Chau of Hai Phong.
Meanwhile, defending champions Becamex Binh Duong will meet Song Lam Nghe An and Quang Nam will play against Dong Tam Long An in other matches of the fourth round today.
Dong Nai will compete against Can Tho, the Quang Ninh team will face Dong Thap, Thanh Hoa will meet Khanh Hoa, and the Da Nang team will play against Ha Noi T&T.