Today’s second semi-final sees a bit of a mismatch if we’re honest with each other. Ha Noi host Becamex Binh Duong in a game which should see Ha Noi comfortably see off the side who play at Go Dau Stadium. While Binh Duong might have bounced back with a stunning 4-1 win over Da Nang at the weekend, Ha Noi have been on fire for a long, long time. Despite one blip against Sai Gon, they’ve been ruthless in their pursuit of the V-League title. After that Sai Gon game, they’ve won five out of their last six and scored twenty-one goals in the process. That’s not to say they aren’t without their weaknesses, though. While they may have scored twenty-one goals, they’ve also conceded twelve goals in that same timeframe.

Let’s take a look at how both Ha Noi and Binh Duong made it this far, starting with the hosts.

Ha Noi’s Route

Unlike their opponents, Ha Noi’s journey began in the opening round of the tournament. A much-changed Ha Noi side nearly fell at the hands of Dak Lak, however, the imperious beast that is Ha Noi managed to find a way. In this instance, it was a narrow victory on penalties. In the round of sixteen, Ha Noi didn’t have any problems of the sort as they wiped the floor with a dreadful Sai Gon side.  A goal on the stroke of halftime opened the floodgates as four goals in twenty second-half minutes ensured their passage to the quarter-finals.

They arguably got dealt the worst hand in the last eight as they got pitted against Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL). It was a topsy-turvy game which saw Oseni put Ha Noi into the lead seconds before the referee blew the half-time whistle. Duy Manh Do then put his own goal to give HAGL a deserved equaliser. Quay Hai put Ha Noi back in front, Cong Phuong levelled. 2-2. Final score. Ha Noi got two crucial away goals which would ultimately prove vital. Van Toan put HAGL one to the good in the return leg and going into the final ten minutes, they were knocking out Ha Noi. That was until Thanh Chung equalised in the 81st-minute to send Ha Noi through on away goals.

Becamex Binh Duong’s Route

Binh Duong came in a round after Ha Noi due to the fact they finished runners-up in the competition last season. Can they go a step further this year? I’m not so sure. They comfortably beat Binh Dinh in the round of sixteen, 2-0 was the score, although it would’ve been double figures if they had their shooting boots on. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

Second to only Ha Noi’s opponents, Binh Duong didn’t get the easiest of draws. Sanna Khanh Hoa were standing in their way of making the final four. They had the advantage of playing away from home first. Max got the only goal of the game to give them a vital away goal and a slender one-goal advantage.

Binh Duong were fabulous in the second-leg. One goal in the first half, two in the second. Job done. Sanna Khanh Hoa got a late consolation goal on the stroke of full time, nothing to worry about, mind. So, yet again Binh Duong begin away from home in a tie they’re not expected to win. A pattern? I hope so.

Previous Meetings

This is a notoriously tough fixture to call. The last four meetings between the sides has seen a win apiece and two draws. Without a shadow of a doubt, the most entertaining encounter between the pair was a nine-goal thriller which ended up with Ha Noi scoring a winner in second-half stoppage time after Binh Duong had come from 4-2 down to level things up. If we get anything close to that, we’ll all be going home happy.

Final Thoughts

My heart is telling me Binh Duong will nick a narrow win and complete the job in September. My head is telling me that Ha Noi are going to score at least three and it’ll be over tonight. The second-leg won’t matter. We’ll see.

Until the next time.