Hanoi FC’s opponent in the first leg of the AFC Cup interzone final is the strongest club in North Korea, with six national football team players in their squad.
April 25 Sports Club (4.25 SC) have no foreign players in the team but they reached the interzone final of AFC Cup last year, losing to Altyn Asyr, who were defeated by Hanoi in the semifinal this year. In the domestic league, they have no competition, with 18 league titles since 1985.
“4.25 SC is a really strong team. We have to be extremely focused when playing against them,” Hanoi head coach Chu Dinh Nghiem said.
One disadvantage ahead of the game for the home team is that they don’t have much information about their opponent. There are no videos of 4.25 SC’s domestic games. Their home games in the AFC Cup are not broadcast live. So the Hanoi team don’t have much material to analyze North Korean team’s playing style.
“All we got are the videos of their away matches in AFC Cup,” Nghiem said.
April 25 SC players (pictured) have more experience in regional tournaments than Hanoi FC. Photo courtesy of AFC.
However, Hanoi, the five-time V. League 1 champions, can also take confidence from having top national players in their squad, like Nguyen Quang Hai, Tran Van Kien, Do Hung Dung and Pham Duc Huy, plus two players from the U22 team, Bui Tien Dung and Truong Van Thai Quy.
The game will kick off at 7 p.m., September 25 at the Hang Day Stadium and will be reported live. A week later, Hanoi will play the second leg on October 2 at Yanggakdo Stadium, Pyongyang in North Korea.
The winner of this interzone final will clash in the tournament’s final against the winner of the West Asia zone final between Jordan’s Al Jazeera and Lebanese club Al Ahed.