A rough start due to Covid-19, referee mistakes and an intense final all contributed to an eventful 2020 V. League 1 season.
The happiest must be new champions Viettel FC who scored a final round victory to lift the trophy.
Before the season started, Viettel coach Truong Viet Hoang only aimed at finishing in the top five since his club placed six and conceded 40 goals a season prior.
Thanks to their desire, consistency, great depth and superb coaching, Viettel claimed the top spot at the start of the second V. League 1 leg, retaining their position on 41 points, two more than runners-up Hanoi FC.
This is their first domestic championship since the club changed their name from The Cong to Viettel FC in 2007. Coach Hoang, who missed out on the title when coaching Hai Phong FC in 2016, has become the fifth person in Vietnamese football history to win V. League titles as both player and coach.
Finishing third, Saigon FC enjoyed an impressive season despite causing controversy by firing their coach after the first round, replacing him with club president Vu Tien Thanh instead.
The team went unbeaten in the first eleven rounds and topped the table after the first leg, but dropped form in the second leg, which left them behind in the title race.
Fans also contributed tremendously to the success of the tournament. Many games were allowed to welcome spectators, opposed to those in neighboring countries hard-hit by Covid-19.
For neutral fans, Viettel’s victory is considered a good sign because it ended Hanoi’s V. League 1 domination of the past two years.
Though Covid-19 had posed many challenges, tournament organizers ensured V. League 1 concluded safely and on time.
Having covered the wins, let us address the losses.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai (white) lost the trust of their fans because of inconsistency and a lack of motivation throughout the season. After avoiding relegation early in the second leg, it had few goals left to aim for, losing six consecutive matches. With a squad including many national team players, the club was expected to contend for the title, but instead, commenced handing free points to opponents.
From the runners-up last season, Hanoi FC exited the title race early this season.
Finishing fifth on 13 points failed to reflect the club’s multi-million-dollar transfer investments, compounded by the firing and recall of South Korean coach Chung Hae-seong (pictured) mid-season.
Quang Nam FC, champions three years ago and runners-up last season, became the fastest V. League 1 victors to get relegated ever, their head coach commenting that even God could not have saved them. Continuing the nightmare, many key players have decided to quit the club following the terrible season.
Before the relegation battle concluded, referee mistakes became a hot topic, the main victim being Nam Dinh.
The northern club suffered a total eight wrongful decisions, which greatly affected their results. During their game against Quang Nam in the second leg, the referee canceled a legit goal scored by one of its players, prompting the Nam Dinh board to state referees were trying to kill the club. Luckily, it escaped relegation in the last round.