Former champs face V-League relegation

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Three former champions Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), Binh Duong and Dong Tam Long An (DTLA) were languishing in the relegation zone after the V-League's 13th round matches were completed Sunday.

DTLA, 2005-06 champions, remained at the bottom with 10 points after a 1-1 home draw with Dong Thap while 2007-08 champs Binh Duong were in 10th place after a 1-2 away defeat to Hoa Phat Hanoi on Sunday.

On Saturday, 2003-04 champs HAGL lost 0-1 at home to top-placed Song Lam Nghe An to stand in 11th place out of 14 teams.

Binh Duong players looked listless and dull in a Sunday clash with hosts Hoa Phat Hanoi at the Hang Day Stadium, and never looked like taking advantage of the absence of their opponent's main striker, Nigeria's Timothy Anjembe, who'd received a red card in a 12th round match against Khanh Hoa, leading to a four match suspension. Anjembe was punished because he mocked the referee by kowtowing to him.

Hoa Phat Hanoi led by two goals to nil before half time, and substitute Le Duc Tai pulled one back with a second-half consolation goal for the visitors.

DTLA, like Binh Duong, played against opponents missing three of their best players because of bookings in the previous round, but all they could manage was a solitary goal in the first half by Tanzanian striker Abdi Kassim.

However, the hosts' paid dearly for their impatience in the second half, allowing Nigerian defender Adesope Hammed to score an equalizer.

The 2001 champs, Song Lam Nghe An, are leading the league with 29 points, five points clear of the 2009 champs Da Nang in second place followed by Dong Thap with 23 points.

Thanh Hoa, mentioned as one of the relegation-likely teams at the beginning of the season, are in fourth with 21 points while defending reigning champs Hanoi T&T are in fifth with 20.

The 2011 V-League season closes for two weeks before resuming on May 14.

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