Home United vs Than Quang Ninh: Can the Protectors pick up vital AFC Cup win?
Home United Form
Brunei DPMM 1-3 Home (S.League)
Home 6-1 Garena Young Lions (S.League)
Home 3-0 Phnom Penh Crown (AFC Cup Playoff Leg 2)
Phnom Penh Crown 3-4 Home (AFC Cup Playoff Leg 1)
Geylang International 4-1 Home (S.League)
Home United's chance to make amends after opening-day defeat to Yadanarbon.
In 2017, Home have played five games and won all but one – against Yadanarbon in the AFC Cup. Coming into this game against Vietnam’s Than Quang Ninh, the Protectors should be buoyed by their impressive start to the S.League campaign , which should inspire and produce a positive result.
To add to the air of excitement for Home this season, stands one of Singapore’s finest footballers in the form of Hariss Harun. The latter’s Spain sojourn with Segunda Division B side Spanish club CE L ‘Hospitalet came to an end after the club learnt that they were not able to sign players until an existing tax liability was settled. Hariss might prove to be the key if Home require his services for this game.
Away side Than Quang Ninh, on the other hand, started their maiden AFC Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw against Yadanarbon in the three-team table. The Vietnamese outfit had spurned chances in that game at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi, with their Congolese striker Patiyo Tambwe hitting the woodwork twice.
Than Quang Ninh Form
Than Quang Ninh 1-1 Yadanarbon (AFC Cup)
Da Nang 2-0 Than Quang Ninh (V. League)
Than Quang Ninh 3-0 Sai Gon (V. League)
Than Quang Ninh 2-1 Song Lam Nghe An (V. League)
Sanna Khanh Hoa 0-3 Than Quang Ninh (V. League)
The Protectors' opening-day loss could prove costly as Than Quang Ninh will know that a draw is not the worst result, considering they will be hosting Home as well as another game to Yadanarbon. They currently sit eighth in the 14-team Vietnamese League.
Although it is speculated that the midfielder will return to Spain in June, Home coach Aidil Sharin should be over-the-moon to be utilising an experienced campaigner like Hariss in a regional competition.
However, Hariss has not been registered for the AFC Cup and is still waiting to see if he can be registered in place of long-term absentee Mahathir Azeman.
Having not played a competitive game since last November, it is to be seen if the midfielder is ready to start. Izzdin Shafiq and Song Uiyoung are more than capable enough to put in a shift at the Jalan Besar Stadium though.
Meanwhile, Than Quang Ninh should be at full strength with no major injuries or suspensions reported.
Key Battle: Sirina Camara vs Vu Minh Tuan
The French defender will have his work cut out for him with Vu Minh Tuan around. The Vietnamese midfielder is no stranger on the regional stage, as he proved himself to be one of the brighter sparks in Vietnam’s 2016 Suzuki Cup campaign.
To add to Camara’s woes, Minh Tuan has had a purple patch of a 2017 so far, having scored in five in all five appearances for Than Quang Ninh. Hence, it is predictable that Camara will be on his toes for the duration of the game.
Phan Thanh Hung would have rued the missed chances against Yadanarbon and will surely urge his team to be more clinical in front of goal to pick up three points.
General consensus amongst both coaches from Than Quang Ninh and Yadanarbon is that Home United are not the hardest of opponents with Yadanarbon’s coach Rene Desaeyere quoted saying: "Than Quang Ninh are a very strong team in Vietnam and are a lot more powerful than Home United.”
This could play well into the hands of opposite counterpart Aidil, who has to set up his side in a way that surprises these two teams and that they are capable of much more.
Aidil should also be delighted that his team are flying high in the S.League, with in-form striker Stipe Plazibat already registering six goals in two games, while Izzdin and Song are pulling all the strings in midfield.
Facts and Figures
- Than Quang Ninh are making their debut in the AFC Cup, while Home are playing in this competition for the eighth time
- Although they were beaten in the first round, Home remain unbeaten in 2017 with wins over Young Lions and Brunei DPMM along with the wins over Cambodian outfit Phnom Penh Crown in the two-legged qualifying round.
Home should be in a good frame of mind to earn a result against the Vietnamese team, considering their positive start to their season. We're sensing a 1-1 draw...
Photos: Home United ( Unless stated otherwise)