Talented midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai is refreshed and raring to go ahead of the AFC Cup’s ASEAN zonal semi-finals when Ha Noi FC visit Ceres Negros today.
|Nguyen Quang Hai. — Photo tinthethao.com.vn|
Hai was rested for the Vietnamese side’s 2-0 V.League 1 win over Sai Gon FC after a hectic club and international schedule.
“Personally I have prepared well for the match. If I have chance to play I will do my best,” said Hai.
The two teams previously met in this tournament in 2017, with Ha Noi drawing 1-1 at home and losing 6-2 away.
“Before this meeting, we worked hard to watch their clips and find ways to counter their style. We will focus 100 per cent in this match to have a positive result away from home so that we have an advantage when playing the second leg on home turf,” he said.
V.League champions Ha Noi entered the semi-finals as Group F winners and the highest-scoring team in the competition with 23 goals.
In the coming match, coach Chu Dinh Nghiem will have a full squad to choose from, bar injured national team defender Tran Dinh Trong, who’s out with a long-term knee injury.
The team arrived in Bacolod City on Friday and were disappointed to discover their training pitch was in a sorry state, with sparse grass and potholes throughout the surface.
The coaching board staff complained to Ceres Negros that the pitch wasn’t safe for the players, and they were allowed to practice at Panaad Stadium on Sunday, where today’s match will take place.
On the hosts side, Ceres Negros are one of the strongest teams in the Philippines and current champions of the local league.
They were in Group G with Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong in the group phrase, who handed them their only defeat in the stage in the Philippines. Negros won the other five games to advance.
In the AFC Cup, they have twice reached the zonal final in 2017 and 2018.
In terms of danger men, forward Bienvenido Maranon is one of top scorers in the tournament with nine goals.
The second leg will be held a week later in Hanoi, with the winner advancing to the zone’s two-leg final in late July.