V.League 1,kick off,HAGL against Than Quang Ninh

Hoang Anh Gia Lai (pictured) will face Quang Ninh Coal in the V.League 1 today. — Photo thethao247.vn

HAGL's coach Lee Tae-hoon said the home side were putting aside their focus on beautiful football and would instead be going for the jugular this season.

“HAGL have had a beautiful way of playing but it is too gentle. I won't stand for this because, in football, you can’t win with naïve play,” said South Korean coach Lee.

“In this new season our players will certainly play like warriors with a stronger spirit and mindset than any opponent in the league,” Lee added.

Despite having their strong nationwide support and stable of national team players like Luong Xuan Truong, Nguyen Van Toan and Nguyen Tuan Anh, the Pleiku City-based side flirted with relegation last year before finishing eighth, while Quang Ninh came third.

HAGL's porous defence was the main problem, with their 46 goals conceded more than every team bar Thanh Hoa, who finished second-from-bottom and only escaped relegation thanks to a play-off win.

Shoring up at the back was a focus for the South Korean coach in the off-season and led to the signings of Serbian defender Damir Memovic and Nigerian defensive midfielder Kelly Kester.
Though Quang Ninh don’t have the same array of talent as HAGL, they are considered a strong team with a cohesive style of play under coach Phan Thanh Hung.


The former national team coach has built a pragmatic way of playing by focusing on the collective rather than individual skill, a style that will be bolstered by the northern side having kept their squad relatively unchanged from last year, bar the major additions of forwards Jeremie Lynch and Andre Fagan on loan from Hai Phong.

The two Jamaican attackers will be supported by midfielders Nghiem Xuan Tu, Nguyen Hai Huy and Mac Hong Quan.

The game will kick off at Pleiku Stadium in Gia Lai Province at 5pm.

In today's other game, HCM City FC will travel to face Quang Nam.

Saturday's only match sees defending champions Hanoi FC host Nam Dinh, while on Sunday Hong Linh Ha Tinh take on Viettel, Becamex Binh Duong face SHB Da Nang, Thanh Hoa play Hai Phong and Sai Gon face Song Lam Nghe An. — VNS

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