Hà Nội T&T continue their quest for AFC Champions League group stage qualification this Saturday. After an impressive away win in India, 3-0 versus Pune FC, T&T now travel to Bangkok to take on Muong Thong United.
Hà Nội T&T will hope to have keeper’ Hong Song and striker Gonzalo back amongst their ranks for the match against last season’s Thai League runner-ups, who themselves can now add ex-English premiership striker Jay Boothroyd to their team sheet. One advantage T&T will have is that the Thai season is yet to get underway. T&T have so far recorded 3 wins and a defeat (scoring an impressive 11 goals) in their competitive fixtures for 2014. Muong Thong United were defeated last week, 1-0, by league champions Buriram in the Kor Royal Cup (The equivalent of the super cup/charity shield). With no competitive league fixtures played T&T will certainly have a slight advantage in match sharpness.
This is not the first time Hà Nội T&T have faced the Bangkok based side. T&T’s first adventure in continental competition saw the two teams pitted against each other in the 2011 AFC Cup (the Asia 2nd tier competition). Muong Thong United ran out comfortable 4-0 winners in Bangkok, while the Vietnamese side had held out for a goalless draw in Hà Nội .
Highlights: MuangThong United 4-0 Ha Noi T&T, AFC Cup 2011
Should the team be successful they will be rewarded with an even trickier tie away to A-League side Melbourne Victory. Being the lowest ranked SE Asian nation invited to the Champions league, Hà Nội T&T must play each game away from home.
The joy of a one off cup match is that for 90 minutes its two teams head-to-head, meaning anything can happen. Melbourne may seem a pipe dream away for many, but not for me, when it comes to football I’ll admit I’m a dreamer. With this in mind, confident of the team winning in India, I’d arrange my Lunar New Year travel plans to include spending the 8th February 2014 in Bangkok, inside the SCG Stadium.