In an unexpected, dramatic turnaround in fortunes, debutants Saigon Xuan Thanh now stand a good chance of winning the top-flight V-League after a 1-1 away draw with Binh Duong in the penultimate round on Sunday.
The title chance has come to the Ho Chi Minh City-based club because leaders Hanoi T&T and second-placed Da Nang both suffered home losses to Hoang Anh Gia Lai and Dong Thap respectively.
Saigon Xuan Thanh climbed one place to second, the same 45 points as third-placed Da Nang and only one point adrift of leaders Hanoi T&T, who they meet in the final round at the Thong Nhat Stadium next weekend.
Hanoi T&T, the 2010 champs, will win the championship if they win the match. They will also take the championship if they draw with Saigon Xuan Thanh and Da Nang fails to beat Ninh Binh, who lost 3-5 away to reigning champs Song Lam Nghe An. Da Nang can grab the title in the event they win and Hanoi T&T and Saigon Xuan Thanh draw their match.
Saigon Xuan Thanh are a newly promoted team and if they can win the title this season, they will become the second debutant to do so after Hoang Anh Gia Lai did it in 2003. Dong Thap achieved the same feat in 1989 when the league was called A1.
In the lower part of the table, Hanoi FC lost 1-4 away to Navibank Saigon at Thong Nhat Stadium and have now joined the group of teams likely to be relegated to the second-flight First Division.
Kien Giang took a 3-1 away win over Hai Phong, already relegated, while Khanh Hoa earned a 2-1 away win over Thanh Hoa. Kien Giang and Khanh Hoa now have the same 29 points as Hanoi FC while second-to-last Dong Thap have 27 points.
Dong Thap can avoid relegation if they win the final round match against Thanh Hoa while one of the other three teams lose. Also, if Dong Thap win and Khanh Hoa can only draw with Song Lam Nghe An, Khanh Hoa will be relegated.