Footy in Vietnam’s north is on the rise with the Vietnam Swans developing a sensational new venue for football just 20mins from Hanoi, ahead of the IndoChina Cup.
Since stumbling on the ground in the Dong Anh, on the fringes of Hanoi between the airport and city centre, the northern contingent of the Swans have been hard at work over the past few months to turn the disused soccer pitch into what is shaping up to be one of the best venues for footy in Asia, at 120m in length, just 15m short of the SCG and 60m in width.
All five IndoChina clubs will contest this years Cup on Saturday 12 August, with the Swans keen to win back the title of best team in IndoChina. After winning the first 4 IndoChina Cups from 2010-2013, the Swans haven’t lifted the coveted regional trophy since, with Thailand winning in 2014 and 2015 and Cambodian Eagles winning last year’s Cup in Yangon.
Swans President Eric Kerrison was excited about the prospects of Dong Anh and what it meant to Swans footy. “While we are spoilt for choice down south in two quality grounds at RMIT Saigon and our spiritual home of Vung Tau, for many years now in the north we have been unable to secure a quality ground on a regular basis for training and games. Dong Anh will give us certainty in our scheduling and the local community has been quick to get around us with 15 kids turning up to our first Auskick session here last week.
“It’s exciting times for footy in Vietnam’s north, we are going to have permanent posts erected which are 8m tall, which has only been made possible with great support from our awesome major sponsors Vietnam Backpackers and Wide Eyed Tours. We are looking forward to putting on a great show for all the IndoChina Cup teams this weeekend and raising the bar on this great tournament.” Kerrison said.
2017 IndoChina Cup formguide
Cambodia heads into the Indochina Cup hoping to back up last year’s sensational effort in Myanmar. With a similarly small squad of players including five local Khmer players, the Eagles are expecting another tough tournament in Hanoi.
Many expat departures and a lack of new blood coming to the club will see the team made up of the usual suspects from the past few years. With a proven yet ageing midfield and strong key position players down the spine the Eagles should be more than competitive again. They will be led by last year’s player of the tournament, Grant Fitzgerald, captaining for the second year running and Stephen Higgins will be assuming the coaching duties as well as providing a target up front.
The 2016 Indochina cup hosts were disappointed by their showing on home turf last year but took a lot of positives from the day with the blooding of several new recruits including three Myanmar local players.
The late ‘in’ of mercurial talent Julian “Rooster” Clark will surely give the Shwe Chinthes a boost in confidence as they make the journey to Hanoi.
The Thailand Tigers have been working hard and will be leaving the Soi’s of Bangkok on their way to Hanoi full of confidence after a recent strong (73 – 29) home win against the Cambodian Eagles.
The 2016 Indochina cup runners up and 4 time Indochina cup winners have fond memories of Hanoi – Leaving the Vietnam capital with the trophy in 2007. As always the Tigers will be travelling with a strong squad lead by coach Chris Walsh.
The Laos Elephants will have 5 Laos National players attending the Indochina Cup. The boys have been training hard out at MMG Sepon Mine Site and are keen to pull the boots on and play in another tournament.
Making up the team will be 6 Expats with their oldest player being nearly 50 and the youngest just 15. After the Shanghai tournament their youngster is keen to have another kick around.
The Laos Elephants will be captained by Lochlan MacNicol and coached by Paul Bottrill. Assisting the team take the field will be a group of Hanoi Gaelic and Rugby players which everyone at the Laos Elephants footy club are very appreciative of their offering to join them. Without their assistance they would not of been able to attend.
The Swans will be looking to assert themselves on their new home ground and have selected a strong team of familiar expats, led by veteran Captain Billy Crang and 2-time Swans Best and Fairest Nathan Milner, with 4-local players also getting the nod from Coach Uncle Al Shiells.
Without new American recruit Ben Carpenter-Nwanyanwu on International Cup duty with the USA Revolution, the Milner brothers will be relied upon heavily in the middle, while Coach Al will be looking for an improved performance from his forwards after they failed to convert opportunities against Malaysia in their last hit out in Saigon.
Canadian backman Vaughn Swart will be another great addition to the Swans line up and should provide plenty of punch forward with his long galloping runs.
The Swans have suffered from slow starts at IndoChina Cup in recent years, but if they can fire early they should be a great chance to win their first IndoChina Cup in 4 years.