Preview - Inter-Zone Final 2nd Leg: 4.25 SC (2) v (2) Hanoi FC
Pyongyang: DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC and Hanoi FC of Vietnam will face off in the second leg of the 2019 AFC Cup Inter-Zone Final at Kim Il-sung Stadium on Wednesday with a place in November’s final up for grabs.
An entertaining first leg in Hanoi ended 2-2 to leave the tie in the balance ahead of the return meeting in Pyongyang, but with two away goals the hosts will begin the match with a slight advantage.
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The Korean side boast an impeccable home record in the 2019 competition having won all four of their games in Pyongynag, scoring 13 goals and conceding none along the way.
A look further back into the history books shows that since making their AFC Cup debut in 2017, they have played 14 games in DPR Korea and have yet to taste defeat.
Captain Rim Chol-min gave them a first-half lead in last week’s first leg in Hanoi and, after falling 2-1 behind before the interval, 4.25 weathered the hosts’ pressure and snatched a late equaliser through top scorer Kim Yu-song’s long-range effort.
In their two previous AFC Cup appearances, 4.25 have reached the Inter-Zone semi-finals and the Inter-Zone Final, and, with a formidable home record and two away goals in the bag, O Yun-son’s side will feel they are perfectly placed to make it third time lucky and reach the final.
Key to their success has been the form of Kim, the tournament’s joint second-top scorer on nine goals. The striker has netted thrice in the knockout rounds and will fancy his chances of adding to his tally on Wednesday, when Hanoi will be forced to attack.
Skipper Rim has also put in some excellent displays in the competition, with goals away to Bangladesh’s Abahani Limited Dhaka and Hanoi in the knockout rounds, while Won Song and Son Phyong-il form a dangerous partnership down the left flank.
To advance to a maiden AFC Cup final, Hanoi must either do what no team has done before: defeat 4.25 in DPR Korea, or achieve a high-scoring draw at Kim Il-sung Stadium.
While it is undeniably a tough task, Hanoi have momentum on their side having not been beaten since late May and picking up their second successive V.League title less than two weeks ago.
After falling behind in the first leg at Hang Day Stadium, goals from captain Nguyen Van Quyet and Papa Ibou Kebe had put them 2-1, only for Kim’s late goal to restore parity.
In the Inter-Zone semi-final they were able to secure a 2-2 away draw in another tricky away tie, at Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr, and a similar result would take this contest to extra-time.
FULL-TIME | Hanoi FC 🇻🇳 2-2 4.25 SC 🇰🇵— AFC Cup (@AFCCup) September 25, 2019
👏 What a dramatic end to the 1st leg of the Inter-Zone Final! April 25 SC scored a late equalizer and are heading home with 2 away goals!
#HANv425 #AFCCup2019 pic.twitter.com/OCDMDoZWNf
With six goals in the knockout rounds, Van Quyet has proved the man for the big occasion and, as ever, all eyes will be on Nguyen Quang Hai to be the creative spark of a side that needs to score at least once.
Elsewhere, Kebe will look to add to his maiden AFC Cup goal, while full-back Nguyen Van Dung returns from suspension to give the left side more balance after the recent departure of Doan Van Hau to Dutch side SC Heerenveen.
Ones To Watch: First Leg Stats
4.25 SC (PRK) vs Hanoi FC (VIE)
Venue: Kim Il-sung Stadium, Pyongyang
Kick-off: October 2, 17:00 UTC+9
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