Above Can Tho by goal difference alone, I now present newly-promoted Nam Dinh to you. When they first got promoted to the V-League, not much was expected of them. They’ve shocked a lot of people along the way and their last five games were no different. Luckily, I was at one of Nam Dinh’s last five games, so it makes this story a little bit better. Well, it should do! Ha – let’s get stuck in.

Ho Chi Minh are Nam Dinh’s first opponents of this recap. I’ll give you a little spoiler, as I’m feeling in a rather generous mood! HCMC are next in the series, just to give you some sort of indication of the magnitude of this game. HCMC needed a win just as much as Nam Dinh. It was a good old-fashioned six-pointer. Who doesn’t love one of them, eh? After seeing the majority of Ho Chi Minh’s home games, I wasn’t expecting a great deal, if I’m honest. A scrappy affair decided by the odd goal.

Self Destruct Level #35

Nam Dinh’s evening didn’t get off to the best of starts when Matias Jadue put Ho Chi Minh in the lead. Somehow, it was still 1-0 at halftime. Considering Kesley was still on the bench, my thoughts were it was going to get worse before it got better. Anyone expecting a Nam Dinh comeback must’ve been a bit mental if you ask me. However, when Ho Chi Minh were reduced to ten men with fifteen minutes left, maybe there was a chance.

Nguyen Huu Dinh drew Nam Dinh level after Kesley put in what can only be described as a ‘strikers tackle’ and conceded a penalty. From there, Nam Dinh were always going to win. Le Sy Minh got the winner with four minutes left, which sent the away following delirious. Final score: Ho Chi Minh 1-2 Nam Dinh.

Another Winnable Game Next Up

After their late heroics, Da Nang were in town. I’m going to guess that the remit was to get a minimum of three points from Ho Chi Minh away and Da Nang at home. Of course, they’d already achieved this, so essentially, this game was a free hit. With no pressure on, they performed magnificently. Le Sy Minh made it two in two when he gave Nam Dinh the lead twenty minutes in. When Diogo made it two, the home fans were in dreamland. If anything, it was a little too easy.

Diogo got his second and Nam Dinh’s third with fifty-eight minutes on the clock and that seemed to be how the game was going to finish. Until Kouassi got involved. Da Nang’s Ivorian frontman pulled one back with six minutes remaining. Surely not? 91st-minute: GOAL! Fortunately for Nam Dinh, Nguyen Huu Dinh got it and it was 4-1. If you think the action ended there, you are sadly mistaken. Kouassi scored again to make it 4-2 and Esele in the Nam Dinh goal got given a red card for good measure. It did set up an interesting finale as Nam Dinh had an outfield player in goal, but they had enough to see it through. Final score: Nam Dinh 4-2 Da Nang.

Late Drama On The Other Foot

It’s funny how the world evens itself out, don’t you think? Before you start to panic and wonder what I’m going on about, take a seat. I can explain. You’ll recall that when Nam Dinh played Ho Chi Minh, they got two late goals to take all three points away from Thong Nhat Stadium. Well, Nam Dinh were back at the same stadium to face Sai Gon. Same outcome? Yes and no, mainly no.

Both teams cancelled each other out for large parts of the game and it seemed destined to end in a 0-0 draw. Well, that was until Le Quoc Phuong arrived in the 90th minute to break Nam Dinh hearts. Either way, six points from a possible nine wasn’t the end of the world. Final score: Sai Gon 1-0 Nam Dinh.

A Point At Best?

Our penultimate game of this review sees Nam Dinh host Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) and considering the form SLNA were showing, Nam Dinh would be forgiven for not attacking too much. That went out the window after Jeremie Lynch put SLNA one goal to the good after six minutes. Things went from bad to worse after Phan Van Duc made it two. Damage limitation? Nam Dinh got to halftime without any more damage being done. You’d imagine they were told to win the second-half and not worry about the full-time score.

So, when Michael Olaha put SLNA three up inside the opening minute of the half, you can imagine how thrilled the bench was. They were not, I repeat, not happy. Credit where it’s due, mind, Nam Dinh didn’t surrender and got what they arguably deserved in the 67th-minute. Diogo converted from a spot kick to give Nam Dinh a glimmer of hope. Too little, too late? Well, Vu The Vuong made things interesting for the last eighteen minutes when he made it 3-2. Ooooh, have a little look! Did they manage an unthinkable comeback? No. Final score: Nam Dinh 2-3 SLNA.

A Free Hit

Nam Dinh’s most recent game was the most daunting. Away at runaway leaders, Ha Noi. Similar to the Da Nang game earlier in this review, this was a game that couldn’t go wrong for Nam Dinh. Ha Noi should, on paper, blow Nam Dinh away every single day of the week. The thing with football is, it’s played on grass, not paper. Bearing that in mind, when Nam Dinh got to halftime and it was still 0-0, what did they do? Hold tight and hope for the best? Throw caution to the wind? Much to my delight, they opted for the latter.

Diogo gave Nam Dinh a shock lead eight minutes into the second period, but rather than sit back, Nam Dinh kept going. With twenty-one minutes played in the second-half, Nam Dinh were THREE goals to the good. Vu The Vuong kept up his good form to make it two and Diogo made it three a minute later. Where on earth had this come from?

If you think that’s the end, you don’t know Ha Noi. Nguyen Quang Hai made it 1-3 in the 81st-minute. Nguyen Van Quyet made it 2-3 in the 86th-minute. Doan Van Hau made it 3-3 in the 88th-minute. Ha Noi almost completed a sensational comeback in stoppage time and would’ve done had the crossbar not got in the way of Samson’s effort. Even stillnam, three goals in the final ten minutes is cracking by anybody’s standards. Thing is, two of them were penalties. Cough, fixed, cough. ALLEGEDLY. Final score: Ha Noi 3-3 Nam Dinh.

One More Thing About Nam Dinh

Let’s revert back to the opening game of the review – that game against Ho Chi Minh City. In the first-half, the possession read 55-45 in Nam Dinh’s favour, yet HCM had the ball in the final third twice more which suggests that Miura’s side were more effective with the ball. Nam Dinh bucked their ideas up in the second-half and had more dangerous attacks and a lot more of the ball. Saying that, that’d undoubtedly be affected by the red card. Such is life. Either way, things are looking up for Nam Dinh.

If I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Nam Dinh to stay up this season. They have enough. Just.

Until the next time.