Hà Nội FC team train for the upcoming matches in the V.League 1. — Photo courtesy of Hà Nội FC

The V-League 1 and V.League 2 are set to resume after a lengthy hiatus to accommodate the Vietnamese national team's participation in the Asian Cup.

During this non-competition period, teams have been diligently training, playing friendly matches, and adjusting their training personnel, all with the aim of being fully prepared for the intense upcoming competitions.

After eight matches in the V.League 1 2023-24 season, there have been several surprising developments. Nam Định Green Steel, MerryLand Quy Nhơn Bình Định and Becamex Bình Dương currently top the rankings, outperforming the so-called "big teams" such as Hà Nội Police, Hà Nội FC and Thể Công - Viettel. However, in a long-distance race like this, only teams with the ability to calculate and execute strategies effectively can achieve the desired results. Therefore, there are ample opportunities for teams to improve their standings.

During this break, defending champions Hà Nội Police garnered a lot of attention by replacing South Korean coach Gong Oh-kyun with veteran coach Kiatisuk Senamuang from Thailand. The aim of this coaching change is to secure the V.League 1 2023-24 championship and qualify for the AFC Champions League. In the past three seasons, coach Senamuang did not achieve much success with Hoàng Anh Gia Lai. However, there is a significant difference in the quality of players between Hà Nội Police and Hoàng Anh Gia Lai. The talented players in the new team can assist the Thai coach in implementing a modern, attacking style of football.

In addition to Hà Nội Police, another contender for the championship, Thể Công Viettel, also made adjustments to their coaching staff, with Nguyễn Đức Thắng replacing Thạch Bảo Khanh. Thắng, a former player of Thể Công Club from 1995 to 2005, had also been involved in the club's youth training programme 13 years ago. His return is expected to contribute to the team's strong performance in the pursuit of the championship. The 47-year-old coach made his debut with Viettel Thể Công at the friendly Hana Play Cup 2024, where they finished as runners-up after losing 1-2 to Daejeon Hana Citizen in the final held on January 27 in Hà Nội.

Similar to the V.League 1, the National First Division Tournament, V.League 2, is expected to be thrilling and full of drama upon its return. SHB Đà Nẵng currently lead the rankings with 17 points after seven matches, but they are closely followed by teams like Huế and PVF-CAND, with only a three-point gap. To achieve their championship aspirations, Đà Nẵng must put in more efforts.

Not only are the teams striving for professionalism and high-quality matches, but the Việt Nam Professional Football Joint Stock Company (VPF) and the Việt Nam Football Federation are also working to deploy and complete the referee training for the video assistant referee (VAR) system. Presently, Việt Nam has 18 referees and assistant referees certified to operate VAR. If the participants in the aforementioned courses receive certification, there will be 31 referees and assistant referees qualified to operate the system. This is a crucial step toward implementing VAR in all matches of the V.League 1 before introducing this technology in the first division event.

To further support the development of Vietnamese football and enable it to keep pace with the rest of the world, FIFA will provide two additional VAR systems to the V.League 1's organising committee starting from the 2024/25 season.

"Việt Nam will receive two more VAR systems in the 2024/25 season thanks to support from the FIFA Forward programme. The VPF is currently devising a plan to allocate the VAR systems through the board of directors. As per the plan, two VAR systems will operate in the northern region, one in the central region, and one in the southern region," VPF General Director Nguyễn Minh Ngọc confirmed to the media.

The matches of the 2023/24 V.League 1 season are expected to resume on February 17 with numerous exciting matches that will be well worth watching. VNS