Football Tribe SEA Editor
Round 8 of the 2020 V.League 1 season saw the latest edition of the Capital Derby being played out on Sunday night. Viettel FC play host to defending champions Hanoi FC at the Hang Day Stadium, in a mouthwatering top half clash that saw two of Vietnam’s most successful teams in V.League history going up against each other for all three points as well as bragging rights of being the best team in Hanoi – a battle between the champions of old against the current rising force of Vietnamese football.
Viettel were the current incarnation of The Cong FC, the football club of the Vietnamese Army. They have won 5 V.League 1 titles, with their latest coming in the 1998/99 season. Since then they underwent a period of steady decline, to the point of withdrawing from professional football altogether in 2010. In Viettel’s absence, Hanoi steadily stamped their authority over Vietnamese football, winning their first V.League 1 title around the same time Viettel disappeared into the amateur leagues. In just nine years Hanoi managed to collect 5 V.League 1 titles in their name, matching Viettel’s accomplishments and proving themselves as the current top dogs of Vietnamese football. Viettel have since returned to the Vietnamese top flight in 2019 and soon enough they found themselves underneath the shadows of their neighbors in purple.
Coming into Sunday’s derby, Hanoi were in desperate need for three points. Having lost a number of key men to injury, Hanoi have already lost three games this season – as many as they had in their title-winning 2019 season – with two of those defeats coming at their Hang Day fortress. Acting as the hosts for Sunday night’s encounter, Viettel found themselves above Hanoi in the V.League 1 table and the Red Tornado were relishing their chances of upsetting their neighbors as they seek to relive their glorious The Cong days this season.
Immediately after the referee blew for kick-off Hanoi floored the gas and went straight for the offensive. In the 3rd minute, Do Hung Dung ran down the right wing and sent a diagonal pass to Nguyen Thanh Chung, who volleyed a powerful shot that went off the Viettel goal’s crossbar.
Hanoi may had started off the game with attacking gusto, but it was Viettel who silenced the purple half of the Hang Day in the 27th minute. Bruno Cantanhede managed to steal the ball off Thanh Chung, before the Brazilian saw Nguyen Trong Hoang rushing towards the Hanoi penalty area. Immediately Bruno crossed the ball towards Trong Hoang, who was unable to handle the ball well. With a single touch, the ball made its way towards an incoming Nguyen Hoang Duc. This time, Hoang Duc made no mistake with his touch and sent the ball beyond Hanoi goalie Bui Tan Truong to make it 1-0 Viettel despite the Hanoi defenders’ best attempt in keeping the ball out.
Now a goal down, Hanoi responded almost immediately shortly after Hoang Duc’s opener. Le Van Xuan was fouled inside the penalty area by Ho Khac Ngoc, prompting the referee to award Hanoi a penalty. With captain Nguyen Van Quyet having missed Hanoi’s last penalty against Sai Gon FC last time out, it was Rimario Gordon who was tasked with executing this penalty. The Jamaican made no mistake in his penalty and despite Tran Nguyen Manh going the right way, Rimario’s shot was too quick for him to save. 1-1 and Hanoi had drawn the tie level.
Spurred on by their equalizer, Hanoi began to intensify their pressure on the Viettel defense as Chu Dinh Nghiem’s men tried their best to search for that all-important winning goal. The second half saw Hanoi bombarding Viettel with much determination, forcing the Red Tornado to resort to hard physical play to keep their defense safe. This resulted in a number of fouls that added more tension and drama into the derby, with Rimario and Viettel captain Bui Tien Dung coming into clashes a number of times that resulted in the latter receiving a yellow card from the referee.
In the end, the second half saw both Viettel and Hanoi carving out a number of chances yet the two Hanoi clubs were unable to make the most out of them. The absences of a number of key men such as Nguyen Quang Hai and Pape Omar Faye meant that Hanoi were lacking that killing edge that earned them victories numerous times. As the referee blew for full-time, the latest edition of the Capital Derby ends in a 1-1 draw, a result that would ensure that Viettel would still be sitting above Hanoi for at least one more matchweek.
Elsewhere, in the earlier kick-off, Song Lam Nghe An’s hopes of keeping up pace with the league’s top three were dealt yet another serious blow after they lost yet another game against a side struggling in the relegation zone. After Round 7’s 3-0 humiliation at Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh, SLNA once again embarked on an away trip to a side who were rock bottom of the V.League 1 – Quang Nam FC. Unfortunately for SLNA, Quang Nam started off life underneath new head coach Dao Quang Hung with an important victory in their fight against the drop. Nguyen Huy Hung elicited cheers from the Tam Ky faithful with a 6th minute goal, before Ho Tuan Tai pulled one back for SLNA just before half-time. 2017 V.League 1 champions Quang Nam had other ideas though and just as the match was about to enter injury time, Dang Huu Phuoc popped up with an 89th minute winner to earn Quang Nam their second win of the season, a battling 2-1 victory against the favorites SLNA.
Rounding up Sunday’s action was Sai Gon’s impressive 2-0 away win at Hai Phong FC, with Brazilians Pedro Paulo and Geovane scoring the goals at the Lach Tray Stadium. The three points ensured that Sai Gon are still undefeated in the league after 8 rounds and the men in pink are now top of the table until all remaining Round 8 matches are played this Monday.