Told ya! Last week I made the mistake of not checking the fixtures in Vietnam until it was too late and I ended up missing Friday’s games from a publishing deadline. What a twat. It’s a good job I didn’t make the same mistake again this week as all the games are tomorrow so I would have egg all over my face. Well and truly. Anyway, enough about my face being covered in egg, let’s talk football. Thanh Hoa, Da Nang, Sanna Khanh Hoa & Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) are our hosts this weekend as the cup takes centre stage once again.
Here We Are At The Last Eight
We are at the quarter-final stage of the competition which means that we now have two-legs rather than one. It’s quite good how they work it here in Vietnam as the first set of matches are tomorrow. The second? Tuesday. Bosh. Job done.
It’s good if you’re one of the eight teams that are involved, not so much if you’re not as you have a spare weekend. Not the end of the world, but if you’ve just built some momentum, it’s not ideal. We’ll have a look at the four games taking place tomorrow (Friday) and then we’ll recap on Monday and see what’s looking the most likely. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
We’ll take it from the top and begin with one of the earlier games and arguably, the easiest to call. Unlike the last round, Binh Phuoc have been handed somewhat of a difficult task as they entertain Thanh Hoa. Now, Thanh Hoa are on a really good run or a really shit one, dependant on your perception.
Are Thanh Hoa Good Or Bad? You Decide!
All of these statements are true (all statements will be referring to all competitions as opposed to just the league). Thanh Hoa are unbeaten in six. Thanh Hoa have only won one in seven. Thanh Hoa have scored thirteen goals in their last six games. Thanh Hoa have only kept one clean sheet in their last seven. In those seven games, Thanh Hoa have conceded fourteen goals. Take that whichever way you please.
Binh Phuoc are not having much more luck as they sit bottom of Vietnam’s second-tier. Their only wins this campaign have actually come in the cup, so maybe they’ll just go hell for leather and try and win it? Imagine that!
Prediction (All predictions are first-leg only): Thanh Hoa 2-1 Binh Phuoc.
Tomorrow’s other early (11:00 BST) game sees Da Nang host Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) and if anyone can figure this one out, you’re a better man than me. There are fourteen teams in the V-League and these pair sit 11th and 13th respectively. Last time out, Da Nang lost due to a late, late, late Hai Phong goal and SLNA lost at home to Nam Dinh which really put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons at the foot of the table.
It All Points To A Da Nang Win
Looking at the game in isolation, it all points to a home win. I’ll explain. Da Nang have only lost once at home this season and that came at the hands of Ha Noi who beat everyone. In complete contrast, SLNA have only won once away from home domestically and that came against Ho Chi Minh, who aren’t very good.
When the sides met in Da Nang in the league last year, SLNA came away 1-0 winners, something tells me that won’t be the case this time. Maybe I can figure it out on my own, eh?
Prediction: Da Nang 3-1 SLNA.
My favourite team at present, Becamex Binh Duong kick-off at 12:00 away at Sanna Khanh Hoa. A lot of what will happen in this game depends on the selection.
Romario Plays, Becamex Win – Simple
If Romario plays for the away side and he’s anywhere near as good as he was last weekend, Becamex win this all day long. If the gaffer mixes up like he did in the last round, I’d be more inclined to say Sanna Khanh Hoa will take the points.
They’re yet to meet this season, however, when the sides last entertained one another, it resulted in a 3-2 win for Becamex and a similar result would not surprise me in the slightest.
In fact, Sanna Khanh Hoa’s last defeat on their own patch was that game against Becamex so could lightning strike twice? Perhaps.
Prediction: Sanna Khanh Hoa 1-2 Becamex Binh Duong.
Our last game is the most appetising. No ifs. No buts. No maybes. Prior to my love affair with Binh Duong, I was an admirer of HAGL. I still am. They’ve still played the best football I’ve seen this season, nonetheless, they are up against an imperious Ha Noi side. Ha Noi are the best team I’ve seen.
They’ve got a Plan A. They’ve got a Plan B. Ha Noi are the ones to beat in this cup which is just as well because I tipped HAGL. Hell, they would have to beat them at some point, so why not now?
HAGL’s Progression Hinders On Ha Noi’s Selection
One of HAGL’s biggest flaws is that their defence isn’t the greatest. Ha Noi already know this as they pasted HAGL 5-0 earlier in the season and while HAGL will be out for revenge, Ha Noi will be only too confident that they can inflict the same pain once more.
If HAGL are going to get past the monster that is Ha Noi, they have to win this. Form is on their side as they haven’t lost at home this calendar year, then again they haven’t faced Ha Noi.
In the last round, Ha Noi stumbled past Dak Lak on penalties and if they don’t field their strongest side, HAGL will have a chance. If they do, it’s probably going one way.
Prediction (based on pure optimism): HAGL 3-2 Ha Noi.
Four games. Hearts will be broken, dreams will be crushed and much more. I can’t wait. Can you?
Until the next time.