Waiting for Thien Truong to shine like pride

For a club that is always in the group that has to compete to avoid relegation in recent seasons, this can be considered a real life changer. Fan Nam Dinh put a lot of expectations in the army under the guidance of coach Vu Hong Viet and of course, expectations always go hand in hand with pressure.

The “life change” of the team to Nam

Nam Dinh is a land rich in football tradition with a strong fan base and extremely enthusiastic about the hometown team. But with the rigors of modern football, love alone is not enough. The biggest problem with Nam Dinh in recent seasons is financial. The tight budget is the main reason why the Thien Truong Stadium team is often among the weakest clubs in the V.League and their main task is just to avoid relegation.

Since returning to the V.League in 2018, Nam Dinh has often been in the group of teams holding the red light. The season they played the best was the 2020 season, when Nam Dinh got 6 wins and 6 draws after 12 rounds, ironically had to stop midway because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the 2022 season, Nam Dinh finished in the penultimate position with exactly 1 point more than the bottom team Saigon FC. Those results certainly cannot satisfy the audience of Nam, the most passionate fans of the V.League.

Vietnam football - Nam Dinh Green Steel: Waiting for Thien Truong to shine with pride

Nam Dinh’s love of football was built from a heroic history. Nam Dinh is a land with the leading football tradition in the country. Football appeared in Nam Dinh starting from the movement of workers of the Textile Factory, the factory’s Cotonkin team won the Indochina championship twice in 1943 and 1945. In the 80s of the last century, the province Nam Dinh (formerly Ha Nam Ninh) there are 3 teams, namely Ha Nam Ninh Youth, Nam Dinh Textile, competing in the national A1 tournament and Ha Nam Ninh Police competing in the A2 tournament. Nam Dinh Football Club, formerly known as Nam Ha Youth Football Club, was established in 1965, renamed Ha Nam Ninh Industrial Team in 1978 to compete in Grade A1 in 1981 and won the national championship in 1985.

When Vietnamese football turned professional in 2000, Nam Dinh performed impressively when winning the runner-up title in the first professional season 2000-2001, then they also won the National Cup championship in 2008. Nam Dinh football has produced many famous and outstanding players such as the brothers, striker Nguyen Van Dung and midfielder Nguyen Van Sy, who have made many contributions to the Vietnamese team or Nguyen Trung Kien. , who was once the most expensive player in Vietnam.

But since the 2010s, Nam Dinh began to decline, mainly due to limited financial resources and difficulties in finding sponsors. Even after returning to the V.League, the Southern team still has the status of a “poor son”. According to the regulations of the V.League, each team needs a minimum of 35 billion to operate in a season. This is not a very large number, but for Nam Dinh, managing to get that amount of money has been really difficult in the past seasons. The team had difficulty in attracting sponsors, leading to having to spend as sparingly as possible. The situation of player’s salary debt has taken place, the club is also unable to recruit more rookies to strengthen the squad while forced to part with prominent names before the tug of the opponents.

Vietnam football - Nam Dinh Green Steel: Waiting for Thien Truong to shine with pride (Figure 2).

But everything changed dramatically when Nam Dinh got a Manh Thuong Quan with enough economic potential and the “playability” to revive the team. In mid-March last year, Thien Truong Stadium’s home team announced the official sponsor, Xuan Thien Group. With this contract, Nam Dinh will receive a minimum financial source of VND 200 billion/year within 4 years. From the scene of “eating every meal”, the Nam team suddenly became a real force in the V.League, strong enough to compete with rivals.

Nam Dinh’s “life change” is most evident in the preparation for this season. A series of famous names have arrived at Thien Truong to strengthen the team. From national players like Tran Nguyen Manh, Nguyen Phong Hong Duy, Pham Duc Huy to names with “cheek number” in V.League such as Hoang Van Khanh, Duong Thanh Hao, Nguyen Huu Tuan, Ho Khac Ngoc, Ngo Hoang Thinh, Nguyen Trong Dai, Hendrio Araujo, etc. all joined forces under coach Vu Hong Viet. About 100 billion VND has been spent to upgrade the team and if you consider the total value of the squad for the teams participating in the V.League 2023, Nam Dinh (3.6 million euros) is only behind Hanoi FC (3.89). million euros) and Viettel (3.7 million euros). They stand above the team that has also rattled the other transfer market, Hanoi Police (3.05 million euros).

This quality of players is enough to turn Nam Dinh into a formidable force. They more or less showed their strength when they finished 3rd in the Thien Long Cup Football Tournament, a tournament to prepare for the new season with rivals Topenland Binh Dinh, Becamex Binh Duong, SHB Danang, Sanna Khanh Hoa. It was a relatively stable momentum for Nam Dinh before they officially entered the V.League race.

Keep your feet on the ground

Nam Dinh’s first match in the new season is the reception for Ho Chi Minh City Club at Thien Truong’s home ground. All the fans are waiting to see how the team they love takes shape after the “makeover”. Thien Truong fire pan welcomed up to 15,000 fans, far surpassing all the stadiums in the opening round with the second largest number of fans in the match between Hanoi Police and Topenland Binh Dinh on Hang Day Stadium with 11,000 people. Once again, Nam Dinh people show their burning love for football and their hometown team.

The atmosphere at Thien Truong is both an advantage but also a great pressure for teachers and coaches Vu Hong Viet. With a team that has been heavily invested in upgrading before the season, all are waiting for an impressive start worthy of expectations. Coach Vu Hong Viet immediately launched 7 rookies to face Ho Chi Minh City Club. These are Nguyen Manh, Thanh Hao, Huu Tuan, Hong Duy, Hoang Thinh, Khac Ngoc, and Hendrio. The quality of this star cast helped Nam Dinh play ahead of the away team. However, the Nam Thanh team also encountered a HCM City club that played very resiliently. The turning point of the game only came in the minutes of injury time when the referee blew the home team a penalty from defender Campbell’s handball. Hendrio made no mistake to bring home the only goal of the game.

Vietnam football - Nam Dinh Green Steel: Waiting for Thien Truong to shine with pride (Figure 3).

A tough, but valuable victory for Nam Dinh because this is a smooth start to a thorny season ahead. The home team of Thien Truong Stadium will still face many challenges and with a squad that has not had much time to play together, the most important thing in the early part of the season is the spirit. After the first match, coach Vu Hong Viet also emphasized on the mental strength and patience of the players to the last moment: “This is a difficult match. It’s a pleasure because we won, a joy. The joy was even greater when the victory came in extra time. The players played exactly as we prepared so far, many opportunities were created. The penalty came from constant efforts. ours”.

That spirit was ignited by the atmosphere at Thien Truong. Coach Vu Hong Viet also did not forget to send his gratitude to the home fans after the opening match: “Nam Dinh club has the number 1 fan association in Vietnam. That is really great. Unlike some other teams, when losing a match, the stands will always be empty. Even if Nam Dinh loses, the fans will always stand by the side of the team. The stands are always full of spectators. This is really impressive!”. For many years, Thien Truong has really been a “holy place” for Nam Dinh. In the difficult season of 2022, 17/23 points that Nam Dinh got are from home matches. Although ranked at the bottom of the rankings, the Nam team also had memorable matches such as winning against Viettel or drawing with Hanoi FC at Thien Truong. With the home team having a significantly stronger force, the trips to Thien Truong in the 2023 season will be really an extremely difficult challenge for any team.

Vietnam football - Nam Dinh Green Steel: Waiting for Thien Truong to shine with pride (Figure 4).

Of course, the most important measure of a team’s progress will still be the final achievement. Nam Dinh people are certainly dreaming of a specific goal, however it is too early to talk about the glories. V.League is a tough game and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the title right away. Coach Vu Hong Viet and his students certainly understand that very well. Their job now is to focus on each match to get the best results. Keeping your feet on the ground is essential to building a team that is truly cohesive and strong enough to challenge the tournament’s strongest opponents. They have a very solid fulcrum that is the love of Nam Dinh fans, who are not only ready to “light the fire” in Thien Truong but also at every stadium that the Nam Thanh team will set foot on. That flame has been kept hard all these years so that it doesn’t “go out” from the V.League, and now, it just needs to wait for the moment to ignite in the most brilliant way!

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