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Hanoi FC - Pohang Steelers: Start the journey beyond the threshold

Published:2023-09-20 By Hiếu Lương(MetaSports) Comments
Hanoi No Vietnamese club has ever passed the group stage of the AFC Champions League, but Hanoi FC wants to overcome that boundary, starting with the Group J opening match today.

* Hanoi FC - Pohang Steelers: 7:00 p.m. today September 20, on MetaSports

Before Hanoi FC, Vietnamese representatives including HAGL, Binh Dinh, Long An, Da Nang, Binh Duong and Viettel all stopped early on the highest playing field in Asian football at the club level. After 74 group stage matches, Vietnamese clubs lost 57 matches and won only eight, scored 55 and conceded 207 goals, receiving an average of 2.8 goals per match. Asia's number one playground is still at a different level, clearly shown when meeting representatives from Japan and Korea.

The lucky draw puts Hanoi FC in a group considered difficult, meeting AFC Champions League defending champion Urawa Red Diamonds and opening with a meeting with 2021 runner-up Pohang Steelers tonight. Meanwhile, Chinese club Wuhan Three Towns is considered a moderate opponent because it is weakening after losing many quality foreign players due to recent financial instability.

The opening match against Pohang Steelers at My Dinh Stadium is a big challenge for Hanoi FC. In the AFC Champions League, Pohang has won the championship three times and is much more experienced than a first-time team like Hanoi FC. History also records that Vietnamese clubs lost 14 and drew three when facing the Korean representative. The only victory belonged to Binh Duong in 2016 with a score of 3-2 against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Hanoi FC may not dream of re-establishing achievements like Binh Duong, but a point in the opening match can also bring a positive atmosphere. At home, Vietnamese football representatives set a goal of not losing, then saved away points to aim for the big goal of passing the group stage.

Coach Bozidar Bandovic admitted that there is still a gap between Southeast Asian clubs and Korea and Japan. But by now, Hanoi FC is ready and in good shape to compete at high intensity for 90 minutes in the AFC Champions League. Besides team play, he values ​​players who show their personality on the field to create breakthroughs.

Before the 2023-2024 season, Hanoi FC was full of domestic titles, also reached the semi-finals of the 2019 AFC Cup but was still unlucky with the AFC Champions League. The team was eliminated four times in the play-offs, including twice in the final round, and the most regretful was the loss to Chinese club Shandong Luneng 1-4 in 2019. At that time, Hanoi FC, like a national team zoomed out, controlled the match and had the opening goal, but failed to mark Italian player Graziano Pelle, allowing the opponent to come back. Therefore, when entering the group stage this season, the capital team does not want to waste the opportunity.

Coach Bozidar Bandovic was invited to be Hanoi FC's most experienced person in the AFC Champions League. He led Thai club Buriram United to the 2018 and 2019 group stages, including once in the 1/8 round. Hanoi FC is also ready to play big when buying all six foreign soldiers to participate in the tournament as prescribed, partly filling in the shortcomings of domestic soldiers. French midfielder who played for Dortmund Damien Le Tallec and former Cameroon international Joel Tagueu are most expected.

For a long time, Vietnamese clubs lacked interest in Asian tournaments. The U23 push in 2018 breathed new life into the football scene and Hanoi FC made its first splash when entering the semi-finals of the 2019 AFC Cup. In the AFC Champions League, despite the difference in level, the performances of Viettel or HAGL also shows determination. The expectations for Hanoi are even higher as they are the strongest and most stable club in Vietnam's history.

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