According to coach Phan Như Thuật, youth is the driving force behind his SLNA players, instilling them with fearlessness against any opponent.
|Sông Lam Nghệ An players train ahead of their match against Đông Á Thanh Hoá. Photo courtesy of SLNA|
THANH HÓA — All eyes will be on the highly anticipated match between Đông Á Thanh Hoá and Sông Lam Nghệ An (SLNA) at the Thanh Hóa Stadium on Saturday.
While Đông Á Thanh Hoá may not hold the same reputation as the renowned SLNA, recent seasons have seen a significant shift in their positions. Thanh Hóa have acquired new talent, with several stars from other clubs joining their ranks, while SLNA have experienced a decline in form after losing key players. However, both teams have had similar performances so far, drawing their first two matches against the same opponents (Hồng Lĩnh Hà Tĩnh and Viettel).
According to coach Phan Như Thuật, youth is the driving force behind his SLNA players, instilling them with the ability to play without fear whoever the opponent.
Despite the absence of midfielder Hồ Khắc Lương due to injury, coach Thuật will have alternative options to choose from. The wings will be manned by Vương Văn Huy and Mai Sỹ Hoàng, both of whom performed admirably in the previous match. In particular, young defender Huy has helped SLNA fans move on since the departure of Hồ Văn Cường.
In the midfield, Mario Zebic and captain Trần Đình Hoàng will play crucial roles. The remaining spot in the midfield is likely to be filled by young midfielder Lê Nguyên Hoàng, based on his performance against Hồng Lĩnh Hà Tĩnh.
At the Hòa Xuân Stadium in Đà Nẵng City, the “central region derby” between Quảng Nam and Khánh Hòa promises to be an intriguing encounter. Quảng Nam, a newly promoted team from the First Division, had two decent debut matches, narrowly losing to Nam Định and then drawing against HCM City. Interestingly, Khánh Hòa faced the same opponents and suffered defeats. Both teams are considered relegation contenders, making this match a no-holds-barred battle.
Becamex Bình Dương present an intriguing unknown in this year’s event, as they seek to reclaim their position as one of the top clubs in the V.League 1. With adjustments and new additions to their squad following a disappointing season, their 2-0 victory at the Quy Nhơn Stadium showcased their true strength. Their next challenge on Saturday will be Hải Phòng, who impressed with a victory over Hà Nội FC. Playing at home will be an advantage for Bình Dương.
Another highly anticipated match is the clash between Viettel and Hồng Lĩnh Hà Tĩnh, both with two points on the table.
Viettel boast a stronger squad, but under the guidance of coach Nguyễn Thành Công, Hồng Lĩnh Hà Tĩnh consistently maximise their collective strength and employ a compact counter-attacking defensive style that can make life difficult for any opponent.