Football Tribe SEA Editor
The remaining first round matches of the 2020 Vietnamese National Cup were played out last Sunday and Monday and while most of the matches’ favorites found themselves advancing to the second round, there were a pair of surprising results that saw teams from the second-tier V.League 2 dumping out opposition from the top flight V.League 1.
On Sunday, Ba Ria-Vung Tau welcomed close neighbors Sai Gon FC at the Ba Ria Stadium in the southern coastal city of Ba Ria, 2 hours away from Ho Chi Minh City. BRVT were a team on the rise – they were just promoted from the Vietnamese National Football Second League as champions of the 2019 season and were sponsored by Thai cement giants SCG, who once sponsored V.League 1’s Hanoi FC and are the current title sponsors of SCG Muangthong United. Their squad includes Ho Chi Minh City FC loanee Que Ngoc Manh and former Becamex Binh Duong defender Nguyen Trung Tin, and looked decent enough to have a shot at a second-straight promotion to the V.League 1. However, despite BRVT’s excellent off-season and lofty ambitions, Sai Gon remained heavy favorites for this tie, as they came to Ba Ria with an excellent record prior to the COVID-19 suspension of Vietnam’s footballing activities. Despite losing head coach Hoang Van Phuc after the first V.League 1 matchweek due to disagreements with the club’s hierarchy, club president Vu Tien Thanh managed to lead Sai Gon to a comprehensive 4-1 win away at SHB Da Nang in the league’s second matchweek, just before the suspension. The result puts the men in pink 2nd on the 2020 V.League 1 table, tailing behind city rivals Ho Chi Minh City by 2 points.
However, despite being the favorites, the suspension must’ve taken away the wind from Sai Gon’s sails as they were stunned by the hosts. BRVT managed to keep up with their top flight opponents and kept them at bay for most of the match, before punishing the men in pink severely. A brace from Chu Van Kien in the 61st and 72nd minute was more than enough to condemn Sai Gon to a shock defeat, who could only muster up a consolation thanks to an 87th-minute goal from Ngo Anh Vu. With the match ending as a 2-1 victory for BRVT, Sai Gon returned home with tails firmly between their legs as BRVT braced themselves for the cup’s second round, eager to claim another scalp.
Sunday’s other matches saw fallen giants Long An FC succumbing to fellow V.League 2 side An Giang FC 5-6 on penalties after drawing 2-2 in Long Xuyen, An Giang Province, Da Nang beating hosts Hue FC of V.League 2 1-0 thanks to a 2nd half Ha Duc Chinh penalty in a Central Vietnam derby, and a breathtaking 61st minute strike from Nguyen Sy Nam gave 3-time winners Song Lam Nghe An of V.League 1 a narrow 1-0 victory over visiting Binh Dinh of V.League 2 in Vinh.
Northern Vietnam side Hai Phong FC of V.League 1 made the long trip down South to Cao Lanh Stadium in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, where Dong Thap FC of V.League 2 awaited them on Monday. The match was supposed to be a straightforward win for favorites Hai Phong, however a determined Dong Thap gave the Northerners the fright of their lives with a shock 3-1 win. A 1st half brace from Truong Huynh Anh Khoa gave Dong Thap a comfortable 2-0 lead at half-time, before Dong Van Trung scored in the 63rd minute to hand Hai Phong a lifeline. However, 3 minutes after Hai Phong’s goal, Dong Thap sealed the win and with it progression to the second round thanks to Vo Thanh Hau.
Other matches on Monday saw a number of straightforward results – V.League 1 Thanh Hoa FC survived a scare in Hung Yen Province after emerging out 2-1 winners over hosts Pho Hien FC of V.League 2 thanks to a Hoang Dinh Tung goal deep into injury time, while a battle between V.League 2 sides saw hosts Binh Phuoc FC emerging out 2-0 victors over Dak Lak FC. Recently relegated Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN gave V.League 1 side Viettel FC a test in Nha Trang, before a late Nguyen Viet Phong goal ensured progression for the men from Hanoi. Last but not least, last year’s V.League 2 champions Hong Linh Ha Tinh managed to eke out a coming-from-behind 2-1 win over visiting V.League 2 side XM Fico Tay Ninh.
The second round of the 2020 Vietnamese National Cup will be played on 30th and 31st of May. The draw for the cup’s second round goes as the following:
An Giang FC (VL2) vs Viettel FC (VL1)
Song Lam Nghe An (VL1) vs Ba Ria-Vung Tau (VL2)
Than Quang Ninh (VL1) vs Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh (VL1)
Ho Chi Minh City FC (VL1) vs SHB Da Nang (VL1)
Becamex Binh Duong (VL1) vs Thanh Hoa FC (VL1)
XSKT Can Tho (VL2) vs Binh Phuoc FC (VL2)
Quang Nam FC (VL1) vs Hong Linh Ha Tinh (VL1)
Hanoi FC (VL1) vs Dong Thap FC (VL2)