Here we are sports fans! Good afternoon to each and every one of you! Following on from the Sai Gon piece, it’s now Can Tho’s turn to be under the spotlight. As you’ve probably guessed by the fact that they’re team number two in this series, Can Tho are second bottom. A peculiar team are Can Tho. In Wander Luiz & Patiyo Tambwe, they’ve got one of the best strike partnerships in the division yet they find themselves in the doldrums of the V-League. What’s been going wrong? Let’s have a mooch at their last five games.

I’m not saying that I’m their good luck charm or anything, but they haven’t won since I’ve seen them play. The last time that happened? May. Yeah, it’s been a while. Anyway, their first of five games is pretty much a non-event so we’ll get that out the way sharpish. Song Lam Nghe An (A) ended up in a 1-0 loss, the goal coming just before the interval. That’s that dealt with. Final score: SLNA 1-0 Can Tho.

The Perfect Start

When I saw Can Tho win against Sai Gon, it was easy to see that the aforementioned Wander Luiz was their talisman. So, if you’re the opposition, you mark him, right? Not Ho Chi Minh City, oh no. Three minutes into the local derby of sorts, Quang Tinh Nguyen got Can Tho off to the perfect start. Wander Luiz made it two on the fifteen mark. Maybe Thong Nhat Stadium was Can Tho’s lucky stadium – two-nil up and cruising.

Wander Luiz treated himself to another goal just after half an hour and Can Tho were in control. 3-0 up with a third of the game gone, time to get the abacuses out? Not exactly, no.

The Not-So-Perfect End

Three minutes after Wander Luiz made it three, Tran Phi Son pulled a goal back for Ho Chi Minh. A precarious scoreline. Can Tho reached the break with their two-goal lead still intact, however, the main question was – how do they approach the second-half? In my book, you have to keep playing the same way, get another goal and kill the game off.

I can’t comment on exactly how the game panned out as I wasn’t there, but with five minutes left of the second-half, it was looking rosy. In the 88th-minute, Matias Jadue got another goal back for Ho Chi Minh. Nothing more than a consolation, surely? Five minutes added on. In the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time, up popped Kesley Alves to give Ho Chi Minh a valuable, valuable point. Kesley is a superb player, more on him in the coming weeks. Final score: Ho Chi Minh City 3-3 Can Tho.

Sanna Khanh Hoa were the next side to visit southern Vietnam. You’ll recall that I bigged them up quite a bit in the Sai Gon article. And it’s going to be no different here. If the gap at the top of the table wasn’t as large as it is, I’d be backing Sanna Khanh Hoa for a late charge. Enough of Khanh Hoa, let’s refocus the magnifying glass on Can Tho. Much like Wander Luiz is Can Tho’s talisman, Youssouf Toure is very much Khanh Hoa’s. So you’d stick someone on him? Not Can Tho, they left him and he scored with nine minutes on the clock. 1-0.

Toure Troubled Can Tho

Credit, where it’s due, Tambwe got Can Tho level ten minutes later and up until halftime, it was an even encounter with Khanh Hoa just about shading it. Dinh Hong Vinh, Can Tho’s gaffer, would’ve told his side to sit tight and not do anything rash. At least that’s what you’d expect. Thirteen minutes into the second-half, Can Tho thought it’d be a boss idea to give away a penalty. Well done, lads. Man of the hour, Toure, was never going to miss. Not in a month of Sundays. 2-1. Can Tho didn’t stand a chance after that. Final score: Can Tho 1-2 Sanna Khanh Hoa.

Two Tough Away Games On The Bounce

As the above sub-heading says, Can Tho’s next fixtures were horrible. If they got even a point out of six, that’d be a bonus. How did they fare, though? Let’s have a little look. Than Quang Ninh were their first opponents. Keep it tight for the first fifteen minutes and we’ll take it from there. Minute fourteen arrives, bang. Goal! Unsurprisingly, it didn’t go the way of the story. Eydison got Than Quang Ninh an early goal and that was that. Two quick-fire goals from Hong Quan Mac meant that Can Tho were 3-0 down inside thirty-five minutes.

At this point, Can Tho could seek inspiration from what Ho Chi Minh did against them or collapse. You know what the answer is. After the break, Nguyen Sa Pham made it 4-0 before Tambwe scored from a penalty. Can Tho’s only shining light on an otherwise torrid evening. To make matters worse, Joel made it five in second-half stoppage time. Surely, things can only get better? Final score: Than Quang Ninh 5-1 Can Tho.

Different Game, Same Mistakes

DON’T CONCEDE AN EARLY GOAL. Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) are the final opponents of this catch-up. Van Toan Nguyen, who was part of the Vietnam U23 side which came so close to a famous victory in January, gave HAGL an early lead. Three minutes on the clock, to be precise. Nothing else to report in the first-half. Can Tho still in with a chance?

They may well have been if they didn’t concede ANOTHER early goal in the second-half – Osmar the scorer on this occasion. Yes, Wander Luiz did half the deficit midway through the second-half, not that it made a difference. Van Anh Nguyen secured the points in stoppage time for HAGL. Another game, another loss. Final score: HAGL 3-1 Can Tho.

Personal Opinion

As these scorelines tell you, defence is their biggest problem. As I touched on earlier, I saw Can Tho earlier in the season when they played Sai Gon and they didn’t look that bad. Wander Luiz scored possibly the greatest goal I’ve ever seen live in that game. If my memory serves, he was in his own half and pinged it over the keeper, ala Beckham versus Wimbledon. Throughout that game, they had less of the ball and finished the game with thirty-one fewer dangerous attacks than the hosts.

You could argue that they scored too early (8th-minute), but I really don’t get that. Just carry on doing what you’re doing because you clearly can’t defend. That’s my biggest message to Can Tho’s hierarchy, tell your team to fucking attack!

If I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Can Tho to finish in the bottom two come the end of the season.

Until the next time.