Domestic Leagues

The most popular football clubs: Vietnam

Hanoi: As is the case across most of Southeast Asia, football is huge in Vietnam and the country's top-tier V.League 1 continues to improve by the year, with exciting homegrown players and talent from overseas raising the bar. 

The V.League began life in a semi-professional capacity back in 1980 and didn't turn professional until after the turn of the millennium but plenty of history has been written ever since.

As continues its look at the biggest teams from the domestic leagues across Asia, we've selected five teams – based on both success and fanbase – as Vietnam's most popular clubs. Review the candidates and vote for your favourite at the bottom of the article.

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Hanoi FC

Capital city side Hanoi FC are the modern day powerhouse of Vietnamese football having won three of the past four V.League titles and been crowned champions five times over the course of the past decade. Add in that they have claimed the last two Vietnamese Cups and have outperformed their domestic rivals on the Continent in recent years, and there's little doubt who rules the roost in Vietnam.

Founded in 2006, Hanoi first appeared in the top flight in 2009 and a year later they won the V.League for the first time. Incredibly, they have finished outside the top two positions just once since, with four first-place finishes between 2013 and 2019. It is under current coach Chu Dinh Nghiem, who took over in 2016, that they have truly established their dominance.

Hanoi have also impressed on the Continent, reaching the AFC Cup quarter-finals in 2014 and then going even better in 2019. Having advanced to the knockout rounds as group winners, Dinh Nghiem's side were crowned ASEAN Zonal champions after beating V.League rivals Becamex Binh Duong and then came within a game of the final before falling just short, on away goals, to DPR Korea's 4.25 SC.

So many of an impressive generation of Vietnam stars turn out for Hanoi, with the prodigiously talented Nguyen Quang Hai the shining light, while experienced campaigners Nguyen Van Quyet and Pham Thanh Luong have been superb in purple for many a year. When it comes to overseas talent, Argentine Gonzalo Morronkle and Nigeria-born Hoang Vu Samson enjoyed long and goal-laden stints with the side.

Becamex Binh Duong

Second on the list of most successful sides since football turned professional in Vietnam ahead of the 2000-01 season are Becamex Binh Duong, the Thu Dau Mot City club who have won four league titles and also appeared in more AFC Champions League campaigns than any other side from their country.

Founded back in 1976 as Song Be, the club won its first Vietnamese Cup in 1994, but it is since the turn of the millennium that they have truly become a force in the Southeast Asian country. Back-to-back V.League titles in 2007 and 2008 then again in 2014 and 2015 were the undoubted high points, while their most recent success came in lifting the Vietnamese Cup once more in 2018.

Binh Duong first appeared in the AFC Champions League in 2008 but their highlights came several years later, claiming the notable scalps of Japan's Kashiwa Reysol in 2015 and then, even more impressively, eventual champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of Korea Republic the following year. There was also a run to the 2009 AFC Cup semi-finals and the ASEAN Zonal final a decade later.

When it comes to club legends look no further than Nguyen Anh Duc, the Song Be native who spent almost his entire career with Binh Duong, making more appearances and scoring more goals than any other player. Le Tan Tai is another who has represented the side with esteem while, of the current generation, Nguyen Tien Linh is among the most highly thought of prospects in Vietnam.

Song Lam Nghe An

Song Lam Nghe An went down in history as the first side to be crowned V.League champions after the dawn of the professional era when, in 2000-01, the side from Vinh finished on top of the pile. That success meant they retained their status of kings of Vietnam after they also claimed the title a year earlier.

Their next – and most recent – championship-winning team came a decade later when under former player Nguyen Huu Thang they finished above the rest. Song Lam Nghe An have also enjoyed Vietnamese Cup success, winning the country's top knockout competition in 2002, 2010 and 2017.

On the Continent, however, they have struggled to make major inroads, with an AFC Cup Round of 16 appearance in 2011 the best they have managed. They returned to the same competition in both 2012 and 2018 although were unable to make it beyond the group stage on both occasions despite picking up several victories.

Vietnam's all-time top scorer Le Cong Vinh started his career with the club, spending four years there between 2004 and 2008 before returning for another spell a few seasons later. Nguyen Trong Hoang is another who excelled in Nghe An and was part of their last title-winning team, while current Vietnam captain Que Ngoc Hai (pictured above) came through the youth ranks and spent a number of seasons there before departing in 2019.

Hoang Anh Gia Lai

Founded just after the onset of the professional era in Vietnam, Hoang Anh Gia Lai were among the most successful sides in those early years of the V.League as they were crowned champions in 2003 before retaining the title a year later. While they have not won the league since, the club has forged a reputation for successfully nurturing some of the country's finest talents.

The famed HAGL JMG Academy established links with English Premier League giants Arsenal and brought players of the calibre of current Vietnam internationals Nguyen Cong Phuong, Luong Xuan Truong (pictured below) and Nguyen Tuan Anh through their ranks, with all of them gaining the opportunity of stints abroad after impressing clubs from further afield.

Hoang Anh Gia Lai were also the first Vietnamese side to record a victory in the AFC Champions League when, in 2004, they defeated PSM Makassar of Indonesia before they also claimed an impressive win over China PR's Dalian Shide. They returned a year later but went winless and have not appeared on the Continent since.

Among the most notable players to have turned out for the side is Thailand legend Kiatisuk Senamuang, who spent the final four seasons of his career in Vietnam and was part of both title-winning teams before having two spells as head coach. Brazilian Evaldo Goncalves netted almost a goal a game during four years in Gia Lai, while Nguyen Van Toan – another academy graduate – is among the current stars.

SHB Da Nang

Another one of Vietnam's historic clubs, SHB Da Nang were founded as Quang Nam Da Nang back in 1976 and are three-time league champions, of which two of their titles were claimed in the professional era, when they won the V.League in both 2009 and 2012. Indeed, in the former they were the dominant side in the country as they also won the Vietnamese Cup.

Since their last title-winning campaign Da Nang have tended to occupy mid-table positions, with a runners-up finish in 2013 and a third-place finish in 2016 the best they have managed. However, since gaining promotion from the second tier back in 2001, they have enjoyed an unbroken spell in Vietnam's top flight that is currently in its 18th season.

Back in 1992-93, Da Nang appeared in the Asian Cup Winners' Cup semi-finals before losing to eventual champions Yokohama Marinos while they also were part of the 2006 AFC Champions League. In 2010, the side reached the AFC Cup quarter-finals, beating domestic rivals Becamex Binh Duong along the way before they advanced to the knockout rounds in 2013.

The V.League's all-time second highest scorer Do Merlo netted the majority of his 130+ goals during two spells at Da Nang, with the Argentine-born striker picking up two league titles with the club. Current manager Le Huynh Duc ended his playing career with the side before guiding them to both aforementioned titles, while youngster Ha Duc Chinh (pictured) is among the current players who excite the fans.

Poll will end on October 23, 16:00 (UTC+8)

Photos: Hanoi FC, Becamex Binh Duong, Song Lam Nghe An, Hoang Anh Gia Lai, SHB Da Nang

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