City lost 0-1 to 'city rivals' Sài Gòn FC in Week 4 of the LS 2020 V-League 1 season, failing to register a single shot in the process.  The result sees City fall to 6th in the league table, one point behind league leaders Sài Gòn.  It was also City's third game in a row where they have failed to find the net meaning that 270 minutes have passed since Xuân Nam's 90th minute strike against Thanh Hóa on 15th March 2020. 

City made three changes to the starting XI that faced Hải Phòng the previous Friday.  Into the Starting XI came South Korean midfielder Seo Yong-duk (6),  striker Nguyễn Xuân Nam (11) who was making his first V-League 1 start after appearing as a substitute in City's three previous league games and a returning Nguyễn Công Phượng (21) who had missed the trip to Hải Phòng attending to personal affairs.  Midfielders Ngô Hoàng Thịnh (9) and Phạm Công Hiển (28) dropped to the bench whilst there was no place in the squad for striker Amido Baldé (99).

Starting XI's

A VFF estimated crowd of 8,000 welcomed both teams as they entered the field of play with a sizable contingent of Sài Gòn supporters in Block D helping to create a lively atmosphere.  Both teams were in good form results wise so expectations were high.

City Team Prior To The Start

It was to be the visitors who were to fly out of the traps from the first whistle and immediately caused City problems with the pace of their attacks.  In the second minute good interplay between Văn Triền (23) and Pedro Paulo (10) required the intervention of an alert Diakité (44) to deflect the ball behind for the game's first corner.  It was to be the first of numerous occasions where the defensive alertness of City's number 44 would be required.

Three minutes later and City were opened up again.  Once again Pedro Paulo was involved.  His cross meeting the head of a totally unmarked Geovane (94) in the box.  Luckily for City his header was wayward.  

The game was not ten minutes old and the visitors were to create another chance.  Xuân Toàn's (29) cross meeting the leaping Pedro Paulo who could only head wide of the City goal.  City were struggling to contain a Sài Gòn side intent on dictating play.

The referee was beginning to take centre stage with a collection of strange decisions.  Công Phượng in particular was becoming frustrated with the perceived lack of protection from a ref who was obviously more a fan of the colour pink than red.  

Twenty four minutes of bizarre decisions were superbly summed up as the referee Nguyễn Viết Duẩn chose to book Coach Chung who had clearly had enough of the idiot in charge of proceedings.

The idiot Nguyễn Viết Duẩn Books Coach Chung Hae-soung

With 25 minutes on the electronic scoreboard, Sài Gòn captain Quốc Long (22) was lucky to escape without even a yellow card as his two footed challenge barely missed the legs of City's No.21 Công Phượng.  Further incensing the emotions of Coach Chung and the rest of the City bench.  The referee did however award City a free kick which was greeted with ironic cheers from the crowd.  He also saw fit to book another of City's coaching staff instead of the perpetrator of the dangerous challenge.

Công Phượng was in particular receiving special attention from the visitors and appeared to receive an elbow to the face as he tried to break free of the Sài Gòn defense.  However, idiot Duẩn saw nothing wrong in the use of the elbow, telling the fallen striker to get to his feet.  It would not be the last time that a stray elbow would be employed by the visitors. 

City were at least now beginning to gain more of a foothold in the game.  On 35 minutes a Công Phượng corner caused confusion in the Sài Gòn box.  Unfortunately for City the danger was cleared and the moment was lost.  City had still to force visiting keeper Văn Phong (36) into action.

On 44 minutes Phi Sơn (10) was to try his luck from distance seeing his effort go wide of the target.

With the first half entering additional time, a dangerous Sài Gòn attack was ended by the inch perfect challenge from Công Thành (71).  The slightest touch on the marauding Geovane would undoubtedly have resulted in Viết Duẩn pointing to the spot.

Half Time : Ho Chi Minh City 0-0 Sài Gòn FC

The second half started with a City team determined to put their mark on the game.  Barely a minute in and a dinked cross from Captain Văn Thuận (14) was met by the head of defender Hữu Tuấn.  His attempt flashing past the visitor's goal.  Five minutes in and it was a case of you attack, we attack.   Geovane's run and cross was gathered by Thanh Thắng (1) at the near post in the City goal.

The game was becoming stretched and on 53 minutes it was the turn of Korean midfielder Seo Yong-duk to try his luck.  His effort on the visitor's goal was going well wide before a deflection took it closer to the target and out for a City corner.

Just before the hour mark at it was Xuân Nam's turn to be on the receiving end of a Sài Gòn elbow.  This time the culprit was Thành Tín (26) who was to stop the striker's forward run in its tracks.  Once again the incompetent Nguyễn Viết Duẩn saw nothing wrong in the use of the elbow.

Xuân Nam Takes An Elbow From Thành Tín

66 minutes in and the game's first goal arrived.  Unfortunately for City it was to go the way of the visitors.  An inswinging corner was met by Pedro Paulo whose glancing header found the back of the City goal.  City 0-1 Sài Gòn FC

Five minutes later and a long clearance put Xuân Nam through on goal.  This time it was the high boot of visiting keeper Văn Phong that was to stop City's forward in his tracks.  Once again the referee saw nothing wrong in the neck high challenge.

The goal had opened up the pitch as City went in search of an equaliser.  Two openings in as many minutes were to materialise - one for each team.  On 86 minutes a presentable headed chance was wasted by Sài Gòn.  City instantly attacked with Công Phượng firing over with his first effort on the visitor's goal.

With les than a minute left on the clock it was the turn of City defender Diakité to receive a blow from a swinging arm.  This time it was Sài Gòn's captain Quốc Long (22) who was the guilty man.  Quốc Long was lucky to be on the pitch to commit the foul and had either not learnt his lesson or expected the referee to ignore this challenge as he had ignored all those that had gone before.  To everyone's absolute surprise, the referee produced a straight red.  Sài Gòn were down to 10 men.  However, City were unable to take advantage and with the ball in City's half the referee drew an end to proceedings.  City had suffered defeat for the first time this season.


City :  Thanh Thắng, Tùng Quốc, Seo Yong Duk, Hữu Tuấn, Phi Sơn, Văn Nam, Văn Thuận, Diakite, Công Thành, De Lima, Công Phượng. 

Sài Gòn FC: Văn Phong, Quốc Long, Ahn Byung Keon, Minh Trung, Thành Tín, Geovane, Văn Triền, Xuân Toàn, Văn Ngọ, Tấn Tài, Paulo.

Full Time : Ho Chi Minh City FC 0-1 Sài Gòn FC

©2018 by Darren Smale