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AFC Cup: Vietnam’s Vissai Ninh Binh preparing for Churchill clash with only 15 players

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Vietnam Cup holders Vissai Ninh Binh are facing a crisis ahead of their AFC Cup round of 16 fixture against Churchill Brothers on May 13 as they only have 15 players available.

The club has been hit by a match-fixing scandal with nine players under investigation. Due to the scandal, the club pulled out of Vietnam’s domestic league, V-League, and because of that several players including three foreigners have left the club.

Coach Nguyen Van Sy is preparing with only 15 players including former Vietnam international striker Pham Van Quyen, who has come out of retirement for this match. Van Sy would be hoping there are no further injuries because as per rules each team must have at least 14 players in the match squad.

30-year-old Van Quyen had announced his retirement last month after not getting enough first-team opportunities. He intends to hang up his boots after this clash against Churchill Brothers.

According to the local press in Vietnam, South Korean midfielder Sim Woon Sub is the only available foreigner. Interestingly Vissai Ninh Binh had a similar crisis before their last group game against Myanmar’s Yangon United and made the trip to Myanmar with only 15 players. But they still managed to win 4-1 and Van Sy is hoping for a similar result against Churchill Brothers on home soil

“Last time against Yangon United the younger players showed great character. That match will have helped in their adaptation at this level and I am sure they will give their all against Churchill Brothers because we will be representing not just our club but Vietnam in general,” Van Sy was quoted saying.

Lenny & Saran major doubts

Churchill Brothers could also have a few notable absentees as the duo of Lenny Rodrigues and Saran Singh are major doubts. Both picked up knee injuries in the final I-League fixture against Salgaocar last week. Winger Bineesh Balan has started training after almost a month but is likely to miss out.

Assistant coach Alfred Fernandes will be in charge of Churchill Brothers in this match as head coach Mariano Dias will be in Japan for the AFC Pro License course, which is being supervised by India coach Wim Koevermans.

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