Topenland Binh Dinh continued their unbeaten start to the 2021 V.League 1 season as they worked out a 1-0 victory over Sai Gon FC on Saturday’s Round 2 action. Hosting last season’s third placers at the August 19th Stadium in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa Province, Binh Dinh managed to win their first top flight game in 12 years after an early Ho Tan Tai goal ensured all three points for the Dark Horses, which elevated them to 3rd in the V.League 1 table.
With Binh Dinh’s Quy Nhon Stadium still undergoing maintenance to ensure that it would meet the standards of the V.League 1, the newly promoted side had to host Sai Gon at Khanh Hoa FC’s August 19th Stadium and despite playing their home game away from home comforts, Binh Dinh rarely looked troubled against an off-color Sai Gon side.
Binh Dinh head coach Nguyen Duc Thang had the luxury of bringing out his strongest squad, which includes the likes of former Than Quang Ninh man Duong Thanh Hao, former Becamex Binh Duong stalwart Tan Tai, last season’s V.League 1 Golden Boot winner Rimario Gordon, and former Sai Gon and Bali United defender Ahn Byung-keon. Sai Gon were without captain Daisuke Matsui for this one and without the influence of the former Lechia Gdansk and Yokohama FC player on the pitch Vu Tien Thanh’s men looked second-best at Nha Trang.
The only goal of the game was scored in the 4th minute, with Tan Tai smashing home a powerful header past a diving Pham Van Phong. The goal was very special for Tan Tai as he was born and raised in Binh Dinh Province, having turned out for Binh Dinh during the early stages of his career before moving to Binh Duong in 2018. Tan Tai made his return to the Dark Horses at the start of the 2021 season and in only his second match into his second stint with his home province club, Tan Tai managed to score a goal.
Sai Gon tried their best in chasing the game however Ahn put out a solid performance against his old side to retain the lead and the clean sheet for Binh Dinh, whilst Rimario managed to lead the lines well and rally his teammates in threatening the Sai Gon defense. Sai Gon actually managed to score an equalizer in the 38th minute, however it was chalked off for offside.
In the end, despite Sai Gon’s best efforts, Binh Dinh managed to retain their early lead and earn themselves all three points, much to the delight of the traveling Binh Dinh supporters who made the long trip from their province to Nha Trang.
Saturday’s other Round 2 action saw Hai Phong FC fending off a late surge from Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh to win 3-2 at the Lach Tray Stadium, a result that sent Hai Phong to the top of the league. Binh Duong also had a good day in the office, showing off a spirited performance to go from a goal down to win 2-1 away at Hanoi FC’s Hang Day Stadium, a result that meant Chu Dinh Nghiem’s men had lost both of their two league matches so far. Hanoi’s poor start to the season can be attributed to a mix of injuries and players yet to hit match fitness in their squad, with the likes of Moses Oloya, Do Hung Dung, and Nguyen Thanh Chung being sidelined by their injuries and the likes of Do Duy Manh and Tran Dinh Trong having just recovered from lengthy lay-offs.
The aftermath of Saturday’s action saw controversy from both the Nam Dinh and Binh Duong camps, with the two teams terminating the contracts of their foreign players due to their attitudes. Nam Dinh have decided to part ways with Kosovan midfielder Gramoz Kurtaj, who reportedly refused to play for the club in their away trip to Hai Phong. Gramoz, who scored a brace in Nam Dinh’s 3-0 opening day win over Hanoi, was accused of faking an injury in the buildup towards the Hai Phong game, an allegation that the former SHB Da Nang and Dong A Thanh Hoa denied on his social media page.
“I played a hundred percent of my abilities in the Hanoi game, helping Nam Dinh to victory with my two goals. However after the game I experienced muscle aches. Before that, I had to spend two weeks in quarantine after a long flight from Europe. If I don’t take a few days off, I could risk a serious injury to myself,” Gramoz wrote, “Before the Hai Phong game I told my coach that it’ll be too risky to play me in that game, I need two or three more days to feel ready.”
Nam Dinh head coach Nguyen Van Sy had some less than kind words for his former player, as revealed by VNExpress, “Gramoz doesn’t have any injury. He’s been training normally and the doctor told us that he’s fine. The problem with Gramoz is his attitude. He thinks that just because he scored a brace in a game, he’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Nam Dinh don’t need a player with such a diva-like attitude and because of that we’ve terminated Gramoz’s contract.”
As for Binh Duong, the Southern Vietnam team have announced after the Hanoi game that they’re parting ways with American attacker Victor Mansaray due to his attitude issues. Victor had kicked the ball towards a number of journalists on purpose during a pre-season tournament and after a strong remand from the club he was forced to apologize to them. However, this does not stop Victor from taking aim at the media once again, celebrating his goal against Hanoi on Saturday with a “shhh” gesture towards the journalists on the Hang Day touchline and also saying some harsh words towards them. Victor also slammed those who criticized him on social media, telling them to “shut up.”
“Victor is too hot-headed and needs to control his temper,” said Binh Duong head coach Phan Thanh Hung to VNExpress, “He needs to adjust his attitude if he wants to survive in Vietnamese football.”
Both Nam Dinh and Binh Duong were given the opportunity to replace their foreign players by the league until Round 4 and Binh Duong has seized the opportunity with both hands, replacing Victor with Oussou Konan, a striker from the Ivory Coast.
Round 2 continues this Sunday with Thanh Hoa taking on defending champions Viettel FC at the Thanh Hoa Stadium, while Da Nang travel to the Cam Pha Stadium to take on Quang Ninh. Last but not least, Tran Phi Son will have an emotional return to the Thong Nhat Stadium as his Hong Linh Ha Tinh side face-off against Ho Chi Minh City FC.