Southeast Asia Vietnam

HCMC, Da Nang, and SLNA Ousted from Vietnamese National Cup at the Hands of Lower League Teams

V.League 1 sides Ho Chi Minh City FC, SHB Da Nang, and Song Lam Nghe An were eliminated from the 2023 Vietnamese National Cup by lower league sides in last weekend’s first round action.

This season’s Vietnamese National Cup is well underway with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday’s first round matches, which feature 18 teams from both the V.League 1 and V.League 2. Seven teams from both leagues – Hanoi FC, Topenland Binh Dinh, Dong A Thanh Hoa, Hoang Anh Gia Lai, Hong Linh Ha Tinh, Sai Gon FC, and Phu Tho FC were given byes to the second round, although Sai Gon’s bankruptcy and subsequent dissolution meant that whoever wins the first round tie in their bracket would go straight into the quarterfinals. The fact that V.League 1 teams were prohibited from using their foreign players against V.League 2 sides – who use only local players – gave the lower league sides a fighting chance in their matches against top-flight opposition,

Ho Chi Minh City were the first V.League 1 side to fall in the first hurdle on Friday night. Taking on close neighbors Ba Ria-Vung Tau at the Thong Nhat Stadium, the Red Battleship went 1-0 up first thanks to Hoang Vu Samson’s 27th minute effort, only for BRVT to restore parity in the 79th minute thanks to Phan Nhat Thanh Long. With the match ending in a 1-1 stalemate, it was the Seasiders who emerged out victorious in the ensuing penalty shootout, with all three of their takers finding the net while all three of Ho Chi Minh City’s own takers failing to leave a dent on BRVT’s goal.

Friday’s other matches saw two V.League 2 sides advancing at the expense of their fellow second-tier sids – Long An FC beating Binh Phuoc FC 1-0 while newly-promoted Hoa Binh FC fell to a 1-0 defeat courtesy of Phu Dong FC.

On Saturday, it was SLNA’s turn to be knocked out after former V.League 1 champions Quang Nam FC got the better of them in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw. As it was with the HCMC-BRVT match the day prior, heavy favorites SLNA took the lead through Nguyen Trong Hoang in the 11th minute, before Quang Nam, who were relegated from the V.League 1 at the end of the 2020 season, equalized in the 35th minute through Le Van Hung.

In the penalty shootout that followed the stalemate, it was Quang Nam who kept their cool, edging out SLNA 4-3 and advancing into the second round as a result.

Saturday’s other results saw V.League 1 sides Becamex Binh Duong and Viettel FC enjoying huge wins over V.League 2 opposition, with the former thrashing hosts Hue FC 4-0 and the latter smashing Binh Thuan FC 6-0.

Last but not least, Da Nang were beaten by PVF-CAND on penalties at the latter’s PVF Stadium on Sunday. PVF-CAND, who were previously known as Pho Hien FC before being rebranded as part of the PVF Academy’s collaboration with the Ministry of People’s Public Security (Cong An Nhan Dan), took the game to Da Nang and managed to force the 3-time V.League 1 champions to a 2-2 draw, before the young guns beat the men in orange 3-0 in the ensuing shootout.

Other than Da Nang, two other V.League 1 teams had to kiss their cup dreams goodbye after being defeated by their fellow top-flight sides. Last season’s league runners-up Hai Phong FC suffered a penalty shootout defeat away at Thep Xanh Nam Dinh, while Khanh Hoa FC were well-beaten 3-1 by Hanoi Police FC.

Last weekend’s first round results set the stage for the second round, which will be played later this year. Viettel will take on Hanoi in a Capital Derby, while Nam Dinh and Hanoi Police go up against one another in a battle between Northern Vietnamese sides.

Binh Dinh will take on Central Vietnam rivals Quang Nam, while Ha Tinh will welcome Long An. BRVT were set to travel to Thanh Hoa, as HAGL and Binh Duong face-off and PVF-CAND take on Phu Tho in an all-V.League 2 tie.

Sai Gon’s bankruptcy meant that Phu Dong essentially got a free pass into the quarterfinal, ensuring the presence of at least two lower league sides in the last eight.