Founded in 2010, Xuan Thanh Saigon FC have moved up rapidly in the Vietnam football ladder in just three years as they won the second tier in 2011 before finishing third in their debut V-League campaign and winning the 2012 Vietnam Cup to qualify for the AFC Cup for the very first time. The club was actually renamed from Saigon FC to Xuan Thanh Saigon FC in between their Cup run and had to remove the sponsors from their name for AFC Cup registration. The Ho Chi Minh City based club has had some financial problems recently and as a result, had to sell some of their best players from last season.
The V-League will only start in March, so Xuan Thanh Saigon FC might take their time to settle in the AFC Cup. They have a couple of players who were part of the Vietnam squad in the AFF Suzuki Cup last year while some have represented Vietnam previously but are not part of the current national setup. Brazilian-born Vietnam striker Huynh Kesley Alves, who scored 14 goals in last season’s V-League and also netted some important strikes in the Cup triumph, was the biggest name to leave them this season. But the club have retained the services of Cameroonian striker Christian Nsi Amougou and the two Uganda international midfielders Geoffrey Kizito and Moses Oloya.
Truong Dinh Luat
The 29-year-old central defender played in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 but has recently lost his place in the national team and will be eager to regain his place by performing well in the AFC Cup.
Phan Van Tai Em
The 30-year-old former Vietnam skipper is currently the club captain and with over 50 caps at international level, his experience will be vital for Xuan Thanh Saigon’s maiden AFC Cup campaign. The midfielder too is looking to win his place back in the national team.
Christian Nsi Amougou
The striker from Cameroon was both Xuan Thanh Saigon’s joint-top league goal scorer and V-League’s third-joint highest scorer last season. Following the departure of Huynh Kesley Alves, there will be extra responsibility on Amougou to deliver for the Vietnam club upfront.