City's 100% winning start to the 2020 V-League  season comes to an end but remain unbeaten after drawing 0-0 away to Hải Phòng FC in an energy sappy encounter played under extreme heat.

It was more than just the heat of the Hải Phòng sun that City had to contend with as they arrived at the SVĐ Lạch Tray for the 17:00 Kick Off.  The players dressing room was without both air conditioning and electricity for over twenty minutes leaving the players to swelter as Hải Phòng officials dawdled in their efforts to find the 'on switch'.

City made two changes from the team that beat SHB Đà Nẵng the previous week in the Cup.  Into the starting XI came Phạm Công Hiển (28) and Alexandre Monteiro De Lima (88) who was making his first start.  Dropping to the bench went Võ Huy Toàn (16) and Phạm Văn Thành (39).  Perhaps the biggest talking point regarding City's squad was the absence of attacking midfielder Nguyễn Công Phượng (21) who had been given permission by the club to marry his girlfriend.  After his penalty heroics of the previous week, keeper Bùi Tiến Dũng remained as back up to current number one Nguyễn Thanh Thắng.  Under the guidance of goal keeping coach Trần Minh Quang, Bùi Tiến Dũng is once again looking like the keeper he once was and even better!!

Starting XI v Hải Phòng FC.jpg

City's Starting XI vs Hải Phòng FC

A VFF estimated crowd of 8,000 (including 6 who had made the journey north from HCM) greeted the two teams as they entered the pitch.  The home support were in good voice and full of optimism. City's small band of merry travellers were in equally good mood about what was to come after last season's three victories over today's hosts and City's current form.

The City Team Poses Prior To Kick Off

Five minutes into the match and the game’s first opportunity falls to the home side Hải Phòng and it falls to Mạnh Hùng, his attempt easily being dealt with by Thanh Thắng (1) in the City goal.


The hosts were enjoying the majority of possession in the opening stages but City’s organized defence was more than comfortable in repelling any and all of Hải Phòng’s initial attacks.


Hải Phòng were the team continuing to press to press the City goal during the opening exchanges. Home striker Claudecir raising high in an attempt to put pressure on the City back line but once again the City defence was more than a match for the hosts.  This was to be the way of the opening period of the game.  City determined not to concede.  A trait that has served them well as over the last 12 months they have developed into a resilute team.


With almost twenty minutes gone, City were yet to mount any meaningful forays into the hosts half, focusing mainly on maintaining a tight defence.

The home side were also beginning to show their physical side to the game.  Crunching tackles were going unpunished as Captain Đỗ Văn Thuận, Phi Sơn and Diakité came under intense scrutiny.

Đỗ Văn Thuận Is Crunched From Behind

On 21 minutes and City’s defence is finally opened up.  Thanh Thắng failing to collect the ball cleanly. The bouncing loose ball striking the arm of Hải Phòng striker Claudecir's arm.

The game was in danger of drifting away from City as the home team continued to knock on the door of City's back line.  However, once again, for all their possession Hải Phòng were creating little in the way of clear cut chances.

The games first real opportunity was to fall the way of the visitors.

Phi Sơn Rues His Missed Chance

Thirty minutes in and City should really have taken the lead against the run of play. Baldé’s (99) initial shot is only parried by Văn Toản in the Hải Phòng goal.  The falling to an unmarked Phi Sơn (10) who somehow contrives to miss the target with the goal at his mercy.


For all their opening domination with the ball, clear cut Hải Phòng opportunities were few and far between.  Any openings coming from long range.  Claudecir in particular was being well marshalled by a City defence with Diakité (44) in particular having another storming performance.

Diakité Raises High

In midfield, Phi Sơn was being man-marked by two Hải Phòng players and was struggling to get into the game.  Alex, making his first start in V-League 1 was all to often forced backwards and upfront, Baldé (99) was largely feeding on scraps.  Too often passes to him were too high restricting his pace. 

City Striker Amido Baldé Battles For The Ball

image courtesy of

The pitch was also not helping City’s cause.  Bumpy in parts, damn right dangerous in others.  Văn Thuận (14) was trying to hold the midfield but as the first half wore on, and Hải Phòng’s tackling became even more ferocious, it was damage limitation for both limb and score which seemed to be high on City’s mind.


A largely unforgettable first half for City was brought to an end after 1 minute of additional time.

Half Time : Hải Phòng FC 0-0 Ho Chi Minh City FC

The second period opened in a similar vein to how the first half had gone.  With the home side pressing.  Three minutes into the half Claudecir saw his volley easily, but assuredly, saved by  Thanh Thắng.  Things were about to get a little bit spicy.  

A rare attack into the host's half resulted in City being awarded a corner.  However, several minutes were to pass before the corner was to be taken as players became entangled in a pushing and shoving game with Hải Phòng players taking it in turns to fall to the ground as if they were shot.

Hải Phòng take to rolling around to gain an advantage

The result of the pushing and shoving saw City striker Baldé became City’s first, and the game’s forth, recipient of a yellow card following some pushing and shoving prior to a City corner.  The game itself was beginning to warm up and so were City.

City were at last beginning to get a foothold into the game and were beginning to trouble the host's back line.  On 55 minutes City were awarded a free kick just outside the Hải Phòng area.  The resultant Phi Sơn free kick failing to trouble the Hải Phòng goal.

Hải Phòng take an unorthodox approach to defend Phi Sơn's free kick

City were becoming more than a match for their hosts duuring the opening 15 minutes of the second half.  Indeed, the hosts were beginning to rely on the counter attack.  In truth though, neither team looked likely to break the deadlock as players began to buckle under the Hải Phòng heat.


Just after the hour mark and Coach Chung Hae-soung made a double change bringing on Xuân Nam and Huy Toàn for Baldé and Công Hiển.  Baldé looked a forlorn figure as he slowly departed the pitch, choosing to sit alone near the players tunnel rather than with his team mates.  Xuân Nam has in previous week’s become something of a ‘super sub’ figure.  All too often coming on to change the course of the game in City’s favour.


Three minutes after coming on and the ‘super sub’ tag was almost proven correct.  Following a Phi Sơn corner, Xuân Nam’s header going narrowly past the upright.

Xuân Nam Goes Close For City

Hải Phòng were continuing to use the counter attack as their best option, Thế Dương (9) trying his luck but his effort lacked the forocity or direction to trouble the City goal.


With just over 15 minutes of the game remaining Coach Chung made his third change bringing on Văn Thành (39) for Alex.


The game was once again beginning to drift with neither side troubling their opponents goal.  For the second game running it looked like City were to draw a blank in front of goal having failed to find the net last time out against SHB Đà Nẵng in the Cup.


Two minutes to go and City’s final change was made.  Local HCM boy Thanh Bình coming on to replace Phi Sơn who had received some rough challenges through out the previous 88 minutes.


With the final whistle sounding after the alloted three additional minutes, both teams had to settle for a share of the spoils.  City the happier of the two sides coming away from a tough trip with both a clean sheet and a point.

Full Time : Hải Phòng FC 0-0 Ho Chi Minh City FC



Hải Phòng: Văn Toản, Mạnh Hùng, Thế Cường (Trung Hiếu, 77'), Schmidt, Văn Hạnh, Ngọc Tân, Thế Dương, Hoài Dương (Thanh Phong, 80'), Văn Trung (Thành Đồng,86'), Claudecir, Mbolimbo.


City: 1. Thanh Thắng, 2. Tùng Quốc, 15. Hữu Tuấn, 18. Công Hiển (16. Huy Toàn, 62'), 14. Văn Thuận, 44. Diakité, 71. Công Thành, 88. De Lima (39. Văn Thành, 74'), 10. Phi Sơn (8. Thanh Bình, 88') 9. Hoàng Thịnh, 99. Baldé (11. Xuân Nam, 62').

Official Match Highlights

Coming Next

City take on 'city' rivals Sài Gòn FC on Friday night (12th June) in Week 4 of the 2020 LS V-League 1 season.  Kick Off at the SVĐ Thống Nhất is 19:00.  Match Preview can be found by following this link.  Ticket information, when available, can be found by following this link.

For Hải Phòng, it is a trip to Becamex Bình Dương on Thursday 11th June.  Kick Off is at 17:00

©2018 by Darren Smale