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Fans jostle to watch Arsenal-supported academy players in Vietnam league

Monday, January 05, 2015, 13:17 GMT+7
Fans jostle to watch Arsenal-supported academy players in Vietnam league
Fans stand on the running lanes and on the grass near the pitch during the Hoang Anh Gia Lai - Sanna Khanh Hoa match in the first round of the V-League on January 4, 2015.

Supporters flooded a stadium in central Vietnam on Sunday to watch the match between Arsenal-supported training center players and a newly-promoted club in the first round of the country’s top-flight V-League.

Hosts Hoang Anh Gia Lai have emerged as the favorite team of the 2015 V-League season owing to their prominent under-19 players, who are graduates of the first seven-year course of the Hoang Anh Gia Lai-Arsenal JMG football academy.

The young players convincingly defeated the visitors, Sanna Khanh Hoa, who were the runners-up of the 2014 First Division.

This is the first time Hoang Anh Gia Lai have used young players – instead of senior footballers – for a competitive tourney such as the V-League, but supporters countrywide are eager for their games, as these footballers have competed very well both locally and internationally recently. One of Vietnam’s richest tycoons, 53-year-old Doan Nguyen Duc, spent US$4 million founding the Arsenal-supported football academy in 2007. He then sent scouts across the country to find gifted kids to train at his Hoang Anh Gia Lai-Arsenal JMG Academy, located in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai. Yesterday the 10,000-seat Pleiku Stadium appeared too small to host Hoang Anh Gia Lai fans. Supporters gathered at the arena two hours before the match, which kicked off at 5:00 pm. Security guards failed to keep order when supporters with valid tickets were unable to pass through the crowd outside the entrance.

Fans even sat on the running lanes and on the grass near the pitch.

After the match, Huynh Mau, director of the Hoang Anh Gia Lai football company, had to apologize to fans for the chaos.

“We sold all 10,000 tickets for the 10,000 seats but it seemed that there were problems with guards at the doors because some people who didn’t have tickets got into the stadium,” Mau explained.

With the event, Pleiku became the first stadium to be fined this season for letting fans encroach on the grass area, according to the fourth official of the match, Cao Dinh Khoi.

However, both fans and Hoang Anh Gia Lai were pleased when the home players crushed Sanna Khanh Hoa 4-2, with a brace from playmaker Cong Phuong in the 40th and 66th minutes.

Nguyen Anh Tuan and Luong Xuan Truong netted the other goals for Hoang Anh Gia Lai in the 26th and 59th minutes. The visitors got back two goals in the 48th and 73rd minutes.

The other matches of the V-League’s first round:

Song Lam Nghe An – Hai Phong: 0-3 Thanh Hoa – SHB Da Nang: 2-1 Becamex Binh Duong – Dong Thap: 6-1 Dong Nai – Than Quang Ninh: 0-2 XSKT Can Tho – QNK Quang Nam: 0-0 Hanoi T&T – Dong Tam Long An: 1-1

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