Hanoi FC eye AFC Cup glory after qualifying heroics

By Lam Thoa, Nguyen My   August 9, 2019 | 10:14 am GMT+7
Hanoi FC eye AFC Cup glory after qualifying heroics
Hanoi FC (R) play Becamex Binh Duong in the second leg of the AFC Cup ASEAN zone final in Hanoi, August 7, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa.

Having advanced to the AFC Cup interzone semi-finals after winning the all-Vietnamese zonal final, Hanoi FC are now switching their focus to it.

The club’s manager Chu Dinh Nghiem said after the 2-0 aggregate win in the ASEAN final over Becamex Binh Duong on August 7: "The AFC Cup will be our number one priority. We will dedicate our very best to this competition."

This is the first time they have made it this far in the competition in four attempts. They were eliminated in the group stage in 2011 and 2017, and advanced to the quarter-finals in 2014.

But they also have the V. League 1 championship title to defend with Ho Chi Minh City FC breathing down their neck, and are still in the National Cup, the only domestic title missing from their trophy case.

Nghiem added: "Hanoi have many matches to play. Our players have to travel and play a lot, which leads to physical overload. It makes us susceptible to injuries.

"However, we shall make every effort to do our best because this is a privilege not only for Hanoi FC but also for Vietnamese football."

He is not the only person concerned about the players’ physical condition.

Fans too have recently voiced concern, considering Vietnam’s World Cup qualifier against Thailand, on September 5, will be in the week following the second leg of the AFC Cup semi-final.

Many of the key national team players are from Hanoi FC, and so the fans have asked the Vietnam Football Federation to rejig V. League 1 fixtures to help the club focus on the AFC Cup and give their players enough rest for the big game in Thailand.

Hanoi FC take on Altyn Asyr of Turkmenistan in the semi-final. The first leg will be played at the Hang Day stadium in Hanoi on August 20 and the second away a week later.

 
 
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