HCMC FC make AFC Champions League debut

By Dong Huyen   January 20, 2020 | 11:58 pm PT
HCMC FC make AFC Champions League debut
HCMC FC players pose before their practice at Chang Arena Stadium in Thailand, January 20, 2020. Photo by VnExpress.
HCMC FC will play their first ever AFC Champions League qualifiers match against Thailand’s Buriram United Tuesday evening.

The club, runners-up of the 2019 V-League tournament, earned the slot after Hanoi FC, the V-League winners, failed to qualify for not having an under-15 young team. The tournament's participation rules require clubs to be grooming U15, U17, U19 and U21 teams.

To prepare for the Asian championship debut, HCMC FC have signed many new players, including three renowned national-team members - forward Nguyen Cong Phuong, goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung and midfielder Vo Huy Toan.

Two new international signings, Swedish striker Viktor Prodell and Senegalese defender Pape Diakite, a player from America's second-highest football league – USL Pro, will add quality to HCMC FC's roster.

"We have prepared carefully for this match. Everyone is ready and waiting for the match to start," said HCMC FC coach Chung Hae-soung.

The club's squad for the match against Buriam United will not have the services of goalkeeper Dung, who'd just returned from national service at the AFC U23 Championship.

Striker Phuong, who has been practicing with the team after returning from Belgium, is expected to start in this match.

HCMC FC also welcomes the return of captain Phi Son after recovering from injuries.

Buriram United are a strong club, having played in Thailand's top-tier League 1 for a long time, and has had seven consecutive appearances in the AFC Champions League tournament. Their most impressive performance was in 2013, reaching the quarter-final.

Tuesday's match will be played at Buriram United's home stadium – Chang Arena, with the club's strongest squad, including players like Supachok Sarachat, Suphanat Mueanta and Supachai Jaided, who've just returned from national service for the AFC U23 Championship.

The winners will advance to the last qualifier against China's Shanghai SIPG while the defeated team will drop to the second tier compeition AFC Cup. Last year, Hanoi FC made it to the inter-zonal final of the AFC Cup and only lost on away goals to North Korean club April 25 SC.

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