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How a starless football club rose to top of Vietnam’s V-League 1

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Saigon FC, a young football club, have become a phenomenon in Vietnam’s top-flight professional football tournament V-League 1, despite no star players on their team, a new management board, and a new coach. 

Saigon FC were founded as Hanoi FC in 2011 before relocating to Ho Chi Minh City in 2016.

The club finished in fifth place in the 2019 V-League 1 season and have yet to win any title.

Shortly before the start of the 2020 season, Saigon FC’s coach resigned and their chairman was forced to hit the pitch and train while the club scrambled for a new management board.

Despite the shakeup, Saigon FC defeated both 2019 champions Hanoi FC and 2019 runners-up Ho Chi Minh City FC on their home turf and claimed the league’s top position in the first half of this year’s tournament.

The club have suffered only one loss throughout the 13 games in the season’s first half.

Players of Saigon FC (purple) and Hong Linh Ha Tinh FC vie for possession during their match in the sixth round of the 2020 V-League 1 at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, June 24, 2020. Photo: Saigon FC

Players of Saigon FC (purple) and Hong Linh Ha Tinh FC vie for possession during their match in the sixth round of the 2020 V-League 1 at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, June 24, 2020. Photo: Saigon FC

Potential awakened

The new management board chose to retain the existing members of the coaching board as well as the team’s roster after taking over the team, highlighting their faith in their potential.

The club also signed a comprehensive partnership agreement with Japan’s FC Tokyo on April 30 to promote cooperation in a football school and overall club management.

A few weeks later, the club announced a new home base – the Thanh Long Sports Center – where the team will live and practice. 

The center will also play home to a newly established academy for youth football training and a system of community football schools.

Capella Group Joint Stock Company is responsible for the nutrition regimen of the club.

The management board has pledged to give the footballers training for future coaching careers if they wish to maintain ties with the club upon retirement.

Leaders of Vietnam's Saigon FC and Japan's FC Tokyo celebrate the signing of their comprehensive partnership agreement. Photo: Dang Hoang / Tuoi Tre

Leaders of Vietnam’s Saigon FC and Japan’s FC Tokyo celebrate the signing of their comprehensive partnership agreement in April 2020. Photo: Dang Hoang / Tuoi Tre

Cutting one’s coat according to their cloth

Saigon FC set a modest target for 2020 of finishing in the top eight out of the league’s 14 participating teams despite having finished off last year’s season in the top five.  

As per V-League 1’s new rules, the teams will be split into two divisions after the first 13 rounds.

Eight leading teams will then compete in a single round-robin system for the championship title while the bottom six will compete to avoid being relegated to V-League 2.

Apart from the title, the winners and runners-up will secure a berth in the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup. The other six teams will walk away from the season with little to show.

Saigon FC’s low target was realistic given the team’s situation, but it wound up being far short of the team’s true capacity for success as highlighted by them securing a berth in the top eight after the ninth round of play.

Saigon FC players and their coaching staff members pose for a photo after their 2-0 win against Hai Phong FC at Lach Tray Stadium in Hai Phong City, Vietnam, July 5, 2020. Photo: Saigon FC

Saigon FC players and their coaching staff members pose for a photo after their 2-0 win against Hai Phong FC at Lach Tray Stadium in Hai Phong City, Vietnam, July 5, 2020. Photo: Saigon FC

Applying technology

Many fans had speculated that Saigon FC would find themselves in rough waters after the resignation of their former coach, but current head coach Vu Tien Thanh has proven the naysayers wrong.

Thanh, who spent 15 years off the pitch pursuing higher education in football business and updating himself on the world’s new football training methodology, brought a fresh and comfortable atmosphere to the club when he took over their helm.

He has applied visual-thinking technology with the use of animation football software to bolster the team’s strategic game planning.

His players are also encouraged to offer feedback on each of the team’s strategies and are informed in advance and allowed to directly comment on the training plan created by the coaching board.

Before each match, the coaching staff carefully analyze the opponents and draft a strategy while player responsibilities are openly communicated by the management board.

This modern approach to coaching has helped the team reach their full potential despite having no star players on the line-up. 

Players of Saigon FC wave at supporters after their game against Ho Chi Minh City FC in the V-League 1’s fourth round in Ho Chi Minh City, June 12, 2020. Photo: Dang Hoang / Tuoi Tre Contributor

Players of Saigon FC wave at supporters after their game against Ho Chi Minh City FC in the V-League 1’s fourth round in Ho Chi Minh City, June 12, 2020. Photo: Dang Hoang / Tuoi Tre News Contributor

‘We are one’ philosophy

The action motto of Saigon FC is ‘we are one’ – one team and one family.

As a family, all members have a responsibility to build the team together. They show their best and act as one on and off the pitch. 

With this motto, all members of Saigon FC, from the management board to the football team and front office, share the same concerns, sorrows, and joys of everyday life, as well as listening to one another.

The investors also put their trust in both the management and coaching abilities of chairman Vu Tien Thanh. 

In addition, Saigon FC’s philosophy is that ‘football is humanity.’

All members of the club engage in several charitable activities and community events to “give away without expecting something in return.”

This motto, philosophy, and the improvement they have made have brought them where they are now.

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/sports/20201008/how-a-starless-football-club-rose-to-top-of-vietnams-vleague-1/57163.html

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Foreign runners electrified ahead of Hanoi midnight marathon

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Foreign runners electrified ahead of Hanoi midnight marathon

Pacers test run the course of VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight. Photo by VnExpress.


Hours before VnExpress Marathon (VM) Hanoi Midnight, excited foreign participants are full of expectations for the special event.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, VM Hanoi Midnight has fewer foreign runners than previous VM events. Still, many residing in Hanoi and other localities signed up for the marathon, to feature over 5,500 athletes.

One of them is Ambassador of Sweden in Vietnam, Ann Måwe. She has registered for the 10 km run.

“I’m looking foward to running on the streets of Hanoi at night. This is my first time joining a marathon in Vietnam. It’s only my second year as an ambssador in Vietnam, my first was so busy I didn’t have the time. This will be my son and daughter’s first marathon ever,” she said.

She said she has run 10 km races in Sweden and around the Hanoi’s West Lake, so she believed she could make it in the midnight race, which will begin late on Saturday and continue through Sunday morning.

Ann Mawe

Foreign runners electrified ahead of Hanoi midnight marathon

Ambassador of Sweden in Vietnam, Ann Måwe, talks about participating in VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight, November 28, 2020. Video by VnExpress/Hoang Nguyen.

Dean Pham, a 37-year-old Vietnamese-American born in the U.S., has signed up for the half marathon. He is currently working in Hanoi and has taken part in several marathons in the country before.

“I have run a full marathon before but found it quite long and difficult. For me, the half marathon is a more suitable challenge. It’s a good mix of speed and endurance. Unfortunately, I’ve had some injuries recently so I haven’t prepared enough. Hopefully, I can still finish my run.”

The Hanoi race will be Pham’s first night marathon.

“The best thing about night marathons is that the temperature will be cooler so I think that will help a lot of runners go faster. The streets will be more quiet so it gives a different impression of the city and helps people enjoy the race without so much noise and traffic,” Pham said.

Dean Pham comes to receive his kit for VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nguyen.

Dean Pham comes to receive his kit for VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight, November 28, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nguyen.

Another half marathon participant is Hanno, 55, a German living in the northern mountainous town Sa Pa. As a running enthusiast, he is really excited about the marathon.

“I like running, I have joined many races all over Vietnam but I have never participated in a midnight run so this will be my first time and it should be interesting.

The preparation for this run is really great and I’m looking forward to enjoy it tonight. Plus, I like running in Hanoi, which is why I came here from Sa Pa today. I have lived there for almost three years now but I have spent 25 years in Vietnam,” Hanno said.

Hanno, a German comes to Hanoi from Sapa to attend the marathon. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nguyen.

Hanno, a German who has come to Hanoi from Sa Pa to attend the city’s first night marathon. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nguyen.

Matsuda, a 45-year-old Japanese who has been working in Hanoi for four years, has previously joined many marathons in Vietnam.

“This is my 10th marathon in Vietnam already. I have been running for five years.”

He chose the half marathon like most of his friends did because the full marathon to them is quite a long run.

“I haven’t prepared much for this marathon as I registered in the last minute when I saw the information on Facebook. Running in the night is not so hot compared to during the day so I decided to join this one. Hope I won’t fall asleep tonight,” Matsuda said.

Matsuda, a half marathon runner. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nguyen.

Matsuda, a half marathon runner at VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nguyen.

For Lucky, a 45-year-old man from Sri Lanka, Hanoi Midnight will be his first marathon ever.

“I have seen a few VM races before but I have never attended them because I didn’t have a partner. But this time I have one so I will give it a try. I chose the five km run because I’m familiar with this distance. Also, I haven’t taken part in a marathon before and that’s the reason I registered for this one,” Lucky said.

His colleague, Javed, 29, also lives in Hanoi and this will also be his first marathon.

“I prepared for this marathon by running four km every day and I have been doing this for one month. I think the difference between the night version and the day version is the weather. It gets cold and windy in the night so it might cause some difficulties,” Javed said.

Darren Barnard, a 26-year-old English teacher from the U.K. who has been living in Hanoi for one year, will be another first-time Vietnam marathon runner.

“To prepare for this marathon, I ran about four to five days a week around the Tay Ho (West Lake) area. I love Hanoi so much. People here are very friendly and it’s safe here. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to join this event. I have registered for the half marathon,” Barnard said.

Darren Barnard

Foreign runners electrified ahead of Hanoi midnight marathon

Darren Barnard before the VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight. Video by VnExpress/Hoang Nguyen.

To guarantee the safety of thousands of athletes, organizers will set up medical, water and navigation checkpoints. On average, there will be one checkpoint every two kilometers, with eight medical stops in total.

Organizers will further install high-power lighting systems along the way so runners could take great photos. With a clear route and chilly weather, VM Hanoi Midnight may see several personal records set.

Source: https://e.vnexpress.net/news/sports/foreign-runners-electrified-ahead-of-hanoi-midnight-marathon-4198589.html

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Thái Sơn Nam win HDBank Nation Futsal Championship final on penalties

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Thái Sơn Nam’s players celebrate their title win in the HDBank Nation Futsal tournament after beating Savinest Sanatech Khánh Hoà 5-4 on penalties in the finals on Thursday night. Photo courtesy of HDBank

HCM CITY— Thái Sơn Nam defeated defending champions Savinest Sanatech Khánh Hoà 5-4 on penalties in the finals on Thursday night to win the HDBank National futsal Championship.

In a match played in Đak Lak Province, Khánh Hòa began confidently and controlled the first half, playing deep from their own half.

They made good use of set pieces to score twice through Đình Hùng and Khắc Chí within 10 minutes of the start.

But Thái Sơn Nam fought back with three goals by Anh Duy, Minh Trí and Thịnh Phát.

In the dying minutes of the first half, Văn Quý of Thái Sơn Nam handled the ball in the penalty area and was sent off. Veteran Trọng Luân duly converted from the penalty spot to equalise for Khánh Hòa.

The first half ended 3-3.

Thái Sơn Nam began the second half by attacking relentlessly, but Khánh Hòa defended well and absorbed all the pressure.

There were no more goals, and the teams went into a penalty shoot-out to decide the title winner.

Trọng Luân of Khánh Hòa missed the last kick to hand Thái Sơn Nam the match and title.

The winning team also received a VNĐ200 million (US$8,600) cash prize.

Khổng Đình Hùng of Savinest Sanatech Khánh Hòa was named player of the tournament, Hồ Văn Ý of Thái Sơn Nam was the best goalkeeper and Lưu Đông Dương of Cao Bằng FC was the top scorer.

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/sports/814731/thai-son-nam-win-hdbank-nation-futsal-championship-final-on-penalties.html

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Capital city gets dolled up for VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight

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Areas around Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake have been fitted with stages, booths and banners ahead of VnExpress Marathon (VM) Hanoi Midnight.

Stage was set up at the Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square, part of Hanoi pedestrian zone, on Thursday night for VM Hanoi Midnight, scheduled from November 28 to 29.The race, themed Run to the Light, is the first large-scale night run in the capital.

A stage is set up at Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square, part of Hanoi pedestrian zone, Thursday night for VM Hanoi Midnight, scheduled from November 28 to 29.
The race, themed “Run to the Light”, is the first large-scale night run in the capital.

Local ran, exercised and played sport near the set-up banners and signs promoting the marathon Friday morning.

Locals run, exercise and play near banners and signs promoting the marathon Friday morning.

A person and a dog passed by the events promotional sign at night.

A person and a dog pass by promotional signs for the race.

Booths were set up on of the sidewalk on Dinh Tien Hoang Street where runners come to accept their entry tickets (BIBs) and kits.

Booths are set up along Dinh Tien Hoang Street where runners can collect their entry tickets (BIBs) and kits.

Athletes have been coming to look for their names to snap photos on the giant banner which were put up since Thursday night.

Athletes have been snapping photos next to their names displayed on a giant banner erected Thursday night.

The course of the race will have athletes run past the Sword Lake, then Hanoi Opera House and along streets like Le Thanh Tong, Phan Chu Trinh, Ngo Thi Nham, Pho Hue, Nguyen Du, and Nguyen Dinh Chieu. The course continued at Thong Nhat Park before entering Tran Hung Dao and Ly Thuong Kiet streets.

The route will see athletes pass the Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake, then Hanoi Opera House and along streets like Le Thanh Tong, Phan Chu Trinh, Ngo Thi Nham, Pho Hue, Nguyen Du, and Nguyen Dinh Chieu. The course continues at Thong Nhat Park before entering Tran Hung Dao and Ly Thuong Kiet streets.

Props were staged on different routes of the event for participants to stop by for a photo op.

Promotional material lines the race course.

The races welcoming sign was completely set up by Hoan Kiem Lake. Organizers have blocked vehicles entering the pedestrian streets since 7 p.m. Friday.

Organizers blocked vehicles from entering the pedestrian zones since 7 p.m. Friday.

Staff strung up lights at the intersection of Lo Su and Dinh Tien Hoang streets, a 30m section of the half-marathon (21km) and marathon (42 km) courses.

Staff string up lights at the intersection of Lo Su and Dinh Tien Hoang streets, a 30 m section of the half-marathon (21km) and marathon (42 km) courses.

Many point of sale materials and kid-friendly activities for spectators to check out on the event starting day while the races inaguration will begin at 5 p.m.To guarantee the safety of over 5,000 athletes, organizers will set up several medical, water and navigation check points. On average, there will be one checkpoint every two kilometers, with eight medical stops in total.

The race inauguration will commence at 5 p.m., with many points of sale and kid-friendly activities available to spectators.
To guarantee the safety of over 5,000 athletes, organizers will set up several medical, water and navigation checkpoints. On average, there will be one checkpoint every two kilometers, with eight medical stops in total.

Source: https://e.vnexpress.net/news/sports/capital-city-gets-dolled-up-for-vnexpress-marathon-hanoi-midnight-4198392.html

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