Viettel FC aren’t household names, but the Hanoi-based club has been crowned 2020 V.League 1 champions for a record sixth time, edging out local rivals Hanoi FC by jut two points.
Viettel FC: A Storied Past
The team known as ‘The Cong’, an affectionate term given to a collective of sports clubs founded by the Vietnam People’s Army are the most successful team in Vietnam, however, they have had an up and down history.
The Cong won their first two championships in 1981/82 and 1982/83, and had five titles under their belt by 1998. A period of malaise then set in, which ended with the teams relegation to V.League 2 in 2005.
The Wilderness Years
Relegation sparked a period in the wilderness for Viettel FC, who gained promotion back to V.League 1 in 2007.
In 2010 the team made the curious decision to leave professional football to focus on youth development, competing in the fourth tear of Vietnamese football – at the amateur level.
In 2016 the club re-joined the professional ranks, winning promotion back to V.League 2 in 2016.
A Return To The Big Time
In 2018 the team won promotion to V.League 1, and have capped their return to former glories by winning the league and finishing runners-up in the Vietnamese Cup, losing 2-1 to Hanoi FC.
In a season punctuated by the Covid-19 pandemic, V.League 1 was able to restart earlier than most, and with crowds in attendance, thanks to Vietnam’s handling of the crisis that saw very few cases.
The title run-in was definitely ‘squeaky bum time’ for both Viettel and Hanoi, with both teams winning five out of their final six matches.
Their only dropped points were when the two teams met at the Hàng Đẫy Stadium, playing out a cagey 0-0 draw.
Under first-year manager Trương Việt Hoàng, Viettel’s five wins in that six-game unbeaten span were all 1-0 victories, against Ho Chi Minh City, Becamex Binh Duong, Hong Linh Ha Tinh, Than Quang ninh, and Sai Gon.
Not only have Viettel reasserted themselves as the dominant force in Vietnam, but owing to their V.League 1 championship, the team will also represent Vietnam in next seasons lucrative Asian Champions League.