Southeast Asia Vietnam

Nam Dinh’s Double Dream Ousted by Defending Cup Champions Thanh Hoa

Newly crowned V.League 1 champions Thep Xanh Nam Dinh had their double aspirations torn apart to shreds after they were beaten away at defending Vietnamese National Cup champions Dong A Thanh Hoa 2-1 in Thursday’s semifinal at the Thanh Hoa Stadium.

Nam Dinh had lifted their first V.League 1 title since 1985 back in June 25th with a 5-1 thrashing of already-relegated Khanh Hoa FC, before capping off their season with a 3-1 win away at Quang Nam FC on June 30th that saw Nam Dinh head coach Vu Hong Viet resting his key players.

Hong Viet’s eyes were clearly on Thursday’s clash in Thanh Hoa against the defending national cup champions, as Nam Dinh seek to claim a domestic double this season.

Fielding their strongest lineup, Nam Dinh started the match off rather shakily but eventually the Knights of Thanh Nam found their footing and opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Some excellent teamwork between Rafaelson and Hendrio led to the latter blasting a shot past Thanh Hoa goalkeeper Trinh Xuan Hoang.

However, despite going down, Velizar Popov’s Thanh Hoa did not waver and the Lam Son Warriors go their equalizer in the 24th minute. Rimario Gordon poked a through ball towards A Mit, who went up one-on-one against Nam Dinh goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh and overcame his opponent to give the defending champions a lifeline.

Nam Dinh spent the opening stages of the second half trying to pry their way through Thanh Hoa’s defense once again, however their opponents caught them off-guard in the 62nd minute. Nguyen Phong Hong Duy committed the grave error of losing the ball at a precarious position, allowing Doan Ngoc Tran to seize advantage and play it short towards Rimario, who rifled home past Nguyen Manh and turning the tie in Thanh Hoa’s favor.

As Thanh Hoa tried to defend their slender lead, Nam Dinh pushed forward for an equalizer, and the Knights of Thanh Nam thought that they had claimed it in the 73rd minute through an unfortunate own goal from a Thanh Hoa defender. Unfortunately, Rafaelson was adjudged to have fouled said defender in the goal’s buildup, leading to Nam Dinh’s equalizer being annulled.

In the end, despite Nam Dinh’s best efforts, they were unable to secure that all-important equalizer, thus allowing Thanh Hoa to march their way into July 7th final. The defending champions will have to overcome Hanoi FC at the Thanh Hoa Stadium. if they hope to retain their Vietnamese National Cup crown for a second season running.