V-League round ends in violence, coach sacked

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Vietnam's top-flight football league closed last weekend with a fight between two Hai Phong teammates and the sudden sacking of Ninh Binh's head coach.

After talk of tough measures, the Hai Phong Cement Football Club has taken lenient measures against two players for having attacked each other after a 2-2 draw against Vissai Ninh Binh on Sunday.

No suspension was issued against goalie Quang Huy and defender Aniekan, but each player was docked half of his monthly salary for the off-field fight.

Hai Phong Cement FC said this was an "appropriate" measure because there was timely intervention to prevent more serious consequences, The Thao & Van Hoa Newspaper on Thursday cited a club report to the organizing board of V-League as saying.

Quang Huy's monthly salary is nearly VND30 million (US$1,600) and Aniekan's is about $7,000.

In its report, Hai Phong also suggested V-League organizers let it handle the case instead of the organizing board's disciplinary body, but the proposal was rejected.

The fight between Quang Huy and Aniekan broke out at the Ninh Binh Stadium a few minutes after the match. Goalie Quang Huy reportedly started the fight after defender Aniekan, irked at a reproachful gesture against him for failing to block Ninh Binh striker Gustavo's shot in the final minutes to level the scores at 2-2.

"Both players were unhappy after the scores were equaled in the final minute. But they should restrain themselves no matter what. Especially when Huy is also a national player," said Nguyen Huu Bang, deputy head of V-League organizing board, who witnessed the incident.

After the incident, Hai Phong head coach Vuong Tien Dung had said: "Their shameful behavior has sullied the club's image. Hai Phong Cement will issue strict measures against both."

Nguyen Hai Huong, head of V-League's disciplinary section, also said there would be strict measures against the, noting that the "rules don't allow any fight among footballers, including those of the same team."

In another incident in the same match, Ninh Binh's Rafael was substituted soon after he almost scored an unexpected goal for his team. He was immediately involved in a quarrel with the team's Singaporean coach Lim Lee Huat.

Ninh Binh's Mangaging Director Tran Tien Dai had to stop the quarrel and both Rafael and Huat were later fined an unspecified amount by the club.

Agent becomes coach

After the match, Vissai Ninh Binh FC announced it was sacking head coach Huat and assigning managing director Dai, a well-known football agent, to hold the position temporarily.

"I used to trust in Coach Lim but all my expectations were broken," said Ninh Binh chairman Hoang Manh Tuong.

"Ninh Binh played without any sharp tactics and was too weak at the midfield. Each player played on his own (without passing). The loss to Dong Thap int the 3rd round and the draw with Hai Phong were the result of serious tactical mistakes.

"We have spent a lot of money to buy good players but Lim's coaching has been no different than spoiling the team. The players have complained to me that Lim's coaching was ineffective and exhausting and he often yelled at them unreasonably.

"It could be too late if we don't let him go now," he said.

Truong convened a meeting at 1:30am on March 9 and assigned Dai to be the acting head coach. Earlier at the meeting, the club mulled assigning the task to former national player Hong Son or assistant coach Pham Nhu Thuan.

Dai, who is more famous as a football agent than as a coach, said he had no choice but to accept the role.

"The club chairman asked me to find a coach but it was extremely hard to find one out right away," said Dai, who had introduced coach Huat to the club.

"I will temporarily instruct the team in the coming rounds and can only think [about a new coach] later. I used to be an assistant coach for the national U-20 team but it was several years ago. Now I am only accustomed to the job of a football agent," he said.

Dai also said he was negotiating with a Brazilian physical training coach for Ninh Binh and that the club had assigned Huat to coach the club's younger team.

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