A funny old animal. I think that’s the best way to describe Hai Phong. On their day, the front pairing of Errol Stevens and Andre Fagan are unplayable. That’s the best word to describe them. However, for large parts of this season, one or both of them have gone missing. Take the game against Sanna Khanh Hoa at the weekend, for example, Zarour had both of them dominated from start to finish. It was the last game before a six-week break though, so perhaps that’s understandable. We’ll come to that Sanna Khanh Hoa game shortly, we’ve got four games to cover prior to that. Here we go.
A Tough Test Against Thanh Hoa
In the V-League, like we’ve discussed countless times before, there are a number of games which can be deemed as ‘free-hits’ and this was definitely one of them for Hai Phong. Don’t get me wrong, you could barely separate the pair of them going into the game, however, it wasn’t a game that I expected them to win. When the scoreline was 0-0 at halftime, you start to think, oh hello, maybe there’s a chance.
Maybe not. Dinh Tung Hoang and Edward Ofere scored at the start and end of the second half to give Thanh Hoa two goals and all three points. It has been brought to my attention that the site I use for the scorers etc isn’t always accurate, so if you do find an error, don’t hesitate to get in touch. My details are at the bottom. No drama. Final score: Thanh Hoa 2-0 Hai Phong.
Turned It On Too Late Against SLNA
There’s no doubting that behind Ha Noi, Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) are the team to beat. Truong Viet Hoang’s message to his players will have been sit tight and try and nick a goal on the break. At least that’s what I believe would have been said anyway. Hai Phong almost made it to the interval. Almost. It’s those fine margins that define us, though. Ho Phuc Tinh gave SLNA a vital goal seven minutes before the sound of the halftime whistle. In turn, that goal changed the entire complexion of the second-half.
The onus was now on Hai Phong to come out and attack. Which left gaps at the back. You know what happened next, don’t you? Michael Olaha made it two, Phan Van Duc made it three and there was still twenty minutes left. What was going to happen now? Were the Hai Phong lambs going to get taken to the slaughter? Not quite. Errol Stevens and Le Pham Thanh Long scored in the final ten minutes to make the game interesting, nothing else happened, though. Final score: Hai Phong 2-3 SLNA.
Red Cards Change Games
A trip to Da Nang. Not the easiest of places to go, but a winnable game, all the same. Therefore, when Thanh Hai gave Da Nang the lead just after the half-hour mark, you’d have right to feel slightly peeved if you were a Hai Phong supporter. Just before the halftime whistle was sounded, you’d be even more annoyed as Huu Phuc was shown a straight red. Backs to the wall for the second-half then.
Rather surprisingly, Hai Phong drew first blood. Thirteen minutes in, Errol Stevens made it two in two. The saying ‘you’re the most vulnerable when you’ve just scored’ couldn’t be truer in this instance. Ha Duc Chinh scored and got booked for good measure two minutes later. For all of their efforts, Hai Phong couldn’t find a way back the second time. Final score: Da Nang 2-1 Hai Phong.
Another Unconvincing Home Display
If the Da Nang game was winnable, then this should have been a routine three points. Becamex Binh Duong were the visitors and in the run-up to this game, they hadn’t won in what seemed to be an eternity. Dinh Bao gave the hosts the lead just before the forty-five-minute mark. You know the drill. Keep it tight for the first fifteen minutes of the second period, maybe sneak a second. Ha. How about no? Halftime substitute, Vo Ngoc Tinh levelled proceedings up in minute fifty-two and unfortunately for the watching masses, that was that. Final score: Hai Phong 1-1 Becamex Binh Duong.
A Familiar Tale
I’m not writing about that game against Sanna Khanh Hoa again as it’ll have a negative effect on my blood pressure and nobody wants that. Especially not on a Tuesday evening. You can read about what happened in Nha Trang here.
Final Thoughts On Hai Phong
Now is as good a time as any to chalk this season off and start prepping for next season. I’ll be gobsmacked if Andre Fagan & Co get sucked into a relegation battle, so it’s really a case of just seeing the season out. Six friendlies essentially. What a bunch of laughs that’ll be.
Until the next time.